Probate is the legal process whereby a named executor disperses the estate of someone who has died. An executor is legally responsible for administering an estate and distributing assets in accordance with the deceased person’s will.
The Law allows you to nominate a family member or friend (known as a “Lay” executor) to dispense your will. Sometimes a loved one may die without having left a will, however their estate must still be dealt with according to the Law.
Irrespective of whether there is a will or not, administration of the estate (estate administration) is required.
In a nutshell, estate administration pertains to all activities relating to the valuation, collection and distribution of the deceased’s estate. This will include tax, legal and administrative activities and due to the complex nature can take a very long time with many forms to be completed, chasing companies over the phone and lots of paperwork.
When someone dies it is an upsetting time for friends and family members who may feel too distressed to deal with the issues that need prompt attention. Aside from having to cope with their own grief, the death has to be registered, the funeral arranged, government forms completed and the Grant of Probate applied for. Here the executor will have to collect assets, pay liabilities, complete tax returns, obtain identification of beneficiaries and complete bankruptcy searches for beneficiaries.
Administering an estate has several stages to it and varies in complexity from person to person depending on a number of factors such as the size of the deceased’s estate, whether there is Inheritance Tax due, how many beneficiaries are named in the will etc.
Often loved ones feel too overwhelmed to deal with such things and prefer instead to hand everything over to an experienced and professional firm, who can deal with everything for them swiftly and exactly in accordance with the law, whilst also putting the interests of the client first.
The advantages of using a professional executor
- The process of Probate can easily overwhelm an inexperienced “Lay” executor, which can result in Probate not being properly applied for and/or trusts not set up.
- The finalising of an estate can sometimes take many years, especially when there is complex tax planning or where litigation occurs.
- There are certain legal procedures that have to be followed in order to protect both executors and beneficiaries.
- An executor faces unlimited personal legal liability if they do not dispense an estate properly. This applies even to inexperienced “Lay” executors.
- A professional executor can complete the administration of Probate quickly and efficiently (e.g. deal with income tax returns and/or claims from the Department for Work & Pensions.)
Mr & Mrs J. jointly own the family home. When Mr J. dies, his children deal with the Will as “Lay” executors. The Will contains a Property Protection Trust (PPT), which is supposed to “ring fence” their father’s 50% share of the house so they can later inherit it when Mrs J. dies. However, because of their inexperience as executors, they fail to properly set up the PPT..
10 years later, Mrs J moves into a care home. Because care costs are means tested and because her chidren did not properly set up the PPT in her husband’s will, she now has to pay the full cost of care. This is because she is now deemed as owning 100% of the family home. The children, who believed the Will “ring fenced” their father’s 50% share of the property, now see their inheritance eroded by care costs.
What should have been done..
If Mr J had chosen a professional executor, the PPT would have been set up properly, meaning Mrs J’s care costs would have been means tested against only her 50% share of the home. This would have left her husband’s share (due to the children after her death) untouched.
It always pays to go with a professional. The above scenario is not an uncommon event. Many “Lay” executors get it badly wrong or neglect the setting up of trusts, which can result in serious losses of inheritance in later years.
Why use Will Writing East Kent
We offer an affordable fixed price* probate service, no matter how complex the estate may be, bringing you and your family complete peace of mind. We offer free no obligation home visits to give you all the advice and support you need. We will assess your estate and clarify for you and your family the tasks involved, including a written fixed price for services.
*Subject to all information being submitted to the company before a quote is made. Additional charges may apply where further work is required.
For more information or to book your FREE will review, call Jim Gregory, at Will Writing East Kent today on 07712 672658 or 01304 614956. Alternatively, fill in the callback form on this page.