DIY probate (England and Wales) – is it for you?
Do it yourself probate can substantially reduce costs, and even speed things up if you have nothing else to worry about. However, it can also land you in deep trouble with the Taxman, the beneficiaries and people who think they should be beneficiaries but are not. Worst case scenario is dire. But most of the time, things won’t be that bad (and you can always hand it over to us if the going gets tough!)
Do it yourself probate – some cases where you maybe should not DIY
- If the estate contains trusts.
- If inheritance tax might be payable (our tax experts may save you more than our fees.)
- If there may have been substantial gifts over the previous 7 (and sometimes 14) years.
- Where there are overseas assets.
- Where the may be family arguments (too many families never make up again – if we do it, you can blame us!) Ending up in Court may mean no one inherits anything but debt and bitterness.
- Where you don’t have the time or administrative skills.
But what other options are there to Do it yourself Probate?
We introduce you to firms who can do as much or as little of the work as you like. But they also offer an Assisted Probate Service where you get all the information, they give it the once over, then assist you to fill in the probate forms. The forms are often the most difficult part of the process. If you need a little help over and above that, they just charge for the time spent, which may just be a few minutes (although, to be fair, it is usually longer than that, but they do try to keep it to a minimum).
As things stand, well over half of probate applications are by solicitors. This Assisted DIY Probate Service aims to help those who are not quite confident or time rich enough. Even those with really complex estates where IHT expertise can pay real dividends can cut costs by collecting in all the basic information, and not paying solicitors to do it.
Legal Responsibilities of Do It Yourself Probate
The executor is legally responsible for meeting all genuine claims on the estate. That may include debts (known and unknown), income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax. They must also consider the possibility of anyone claiming under the Inheritance Acts for family provision. Get it wrong and you could get personal penalties from the Taxman. If you don’t get it right, you could be sued by beneficiaries or creditors.
DIY Probate stages explained
The executor must:
- Protect the estate with all that involves.
- Value the estate.
- Find out what the liabilities are.
- Pay any tax due of whatever type, including income tax, IHT etc etc.
- Apply for a grant of probate.
- Administer the estate. That means gathering information on all the assets and liabilities, paying the bills, and eventually paying out the beneficiaries. Very often do it yourself Executors get this wrong because they don’t understand the real meaning of the clauses in the Will. Or the executor doesn’t understand how the Rules of Intestacy work.
With us, the Assisted Probate Service can help to get the grant of probate for you. You could, if you wished, take over the rest of the estate administration yourself.
We do offer a free guide to Do It Yourself Probate (by email only, I am afraid). Just use the form alongside.
DIY Probate Help and Review (IHT 205) covers:
This is a form checking service. For a fixed fee of £249 they will review the PA1 and IHT 205 forms that you have completed against a list of Assets & Liabilities containing the date of death values provided to us by you.
A broad outline of the work they are to carry out for you is:
- Receiving the completed PA1, IHT 205, and a list of assets & Liabilities with their date of death values;
- Receiving a completed family tree where there is no Will including details if widowed/divorced;
- Receiving a copy signed Will (if there is one)
- Receiving a copy death certificate
- Receiving payment in full in advance
- Reviewing the PA1, IHT 205 and commenting on any amendments to and / or more information required by telephone appointment with follow up email of bullet action points
Their next service is for a slightly more complicated estate where extra forms have to be completed (and they are pretty tough).
DIY Probate Help and Review (IHT 400) Larger or more complex estates.
There may well be the possibility of Inheritance Tax, significant lifetime gifts, or trusts, both lifetime and Will trusts.
This is done on the basis of charging just for the time used and is tailored to your requirements. It is normally carried out over the phone. A broad outline of the work they may be asked to carry out for you is:
- Receiving and discussing the completed PA1, IHT 400 and supporting schedules and list of assets & Liabilities with their date of death values
- Receiving and discussing a completed family tree including details if widowed/divorced where there is no Will;
- Receiving and discussing a copy signed Will (if there is one)
- Receiving and discussing a copy death certificate
- Reviewing the PA1, IHT 400 and supporting schedules and commenting on any amendments to and / or additional information required by telephone.