At Solomons Solicitors, we understand that if you are named in a Will as an executor of an estate, the appointment can feel like a heavy burden to be handled personally rather than delegated to a probate lawyer. That’s why we work with you as a team, offering our legal expertise to support you in your role as a personal representative.
Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.
If probate can be done online, why do personal representatives need probate lawyers?
Whilst probate can now be applied for online, the work needed to secure a grant of probate successfully has not changed. Most personal representatives do not have the time to quickly gather all the paperwork necessary to secure probate. Understandably they want a professional probate lawyer to sort out the documents and report back to them.
The personal liability of personal representatives
When you agreed to be an executor of a Will you probably did not realise the responsibilities and potential liabilities that the role carries. Personal representatives are personally liable for any acts or omissions by them in relation to the administration of an estate.
In appointing a probate lawyer to act for the executors of a Will, the risk is passed onto the probate lawyers. They are not only experts in obtaining probate and distributing estates in accordance with Wills or intestacy provisions but also have professional insurance cover just in case anything was to go wrong.
Personal representatives should understand the extent of their potential personal liability before deciding to administer an estate without the help of a probate lawyer, particularly where the estate is complicated.
Why should you instruct a probate lawyer?
It is often the case that personal representatives do not fully understand how complicated an estate administration can be until they have started the process of applying for probate. Particular ‘red flag’ issues can result in complexities. The list is long but includes
- The deceased may not have been domiciled in the UK
- Intestacy rules apply as the deceased did not make a valid Will
- The estate includes overseas assets such as a holiday home
- There is a disputed Will or challenges to the Will
- The Will contains trusts
- There are child beneficiaries
- The value of the estate is large, and inheritance tax will be payable
- There are post-death inheritance tax strategies available, such as a deed of variation
- The deceased had complex assets such as a family business or a buy to let property portfolio
These are just some of the factors that can make acting as a personal representative stressful, but if you have the help and support of a probate lawyer the intricacies are no longer for you to tackle.
The benefits to a personal representative of handing over to a probate lawyer
Many personal representatives worry they are letting the side down by appointing a probate lawyer, but the benefits can outweigh the cost to the estate of using the services of an expert probate solicitor. They include
- Reduced stress, important if a personal representative is close to the deceased and needs time and space to grieve. It allows you to focus on the loss of your loved one.
- Less hassle as any complexities such as challenges to the Will or calculation of inheritance tax liability are handed over to the probate lawyer.
- Speed in estate distribution
Remember that if you are a personal representative, you have responsibilities and liabilities that are not limited or linked to whether you are a beneficiary of the estate. Understanding the complexities of your role is an important first step in your role as a personal representative.