D-I-Y Probate: Can I do the probate myself?

When a loved one dies, contending with with the legal and financial aftermath of a death and feeling overwhelmed by complex processes can add even more strain to you and your family during a very difficult time.

Despite claims from various ‘Do It Yourself’ advisors that DIY Probate will save you your time and money, the stark reality is that it could cost you both.


What is probate?

Probate is the legal process where the estate of the person who has passed away is administered in accordance with a valid Will.

If someone who has passed away has named you as Executor you will be responsible for the Probate. This means that you are responsible for carrying out the wishes in that person’s Will and for settling the estate. If you have been named as an Executor but don’t want to act or would like some help in acting, contact us today to see how we can help.


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Penalties

The ramifications for mishandling the estate can be severe. If you are shown to have caused a loss to the estate, for example by mismanaging assets or selling a house for less than it is worth, you could be held liable to any beneficiary that loses out because of your poor judgement.

As Executor, creditors can hold you personally liable for unpaid debts. There are time limits for providing information to HMRC and penalties for late delivery, or for inaccurate or incomplete information.

Remember, pleading ignorance is not an acceptable defence to creditors or HMRC. If you choose to do it yourself, you must be personally prepared to bear the consequences.

Click here to read our guide for Executors.

Unknown unknowns

Are you confident that you can draw up estate accounts? If you found that there were assets in the estate that were now worth less than at the date of death, would you know what to do?

The Will of the deceased has left a property to the deceased’s child and cash to their grandchildren. Is there a way of making use of the resident nil rate band?

Are you happy to carry out bankruptcy searches on beneficiaries and did you realise that you needed to?

If you answered ‘no’ or ‘not sure’ to any of the questions above, we would recommend you seek legal advice.

Being in the dark when it comes to probate can lead to bad choices and potentially dire consequences. It’s crucial that the person carrying out the probate feels confident that they can make informed decisions along the way. Don’t let you or your family miss out. We know what to look for and what questions to ask. We will guide you and ensure that the probate is carried out in the most effective way for everyone involved.

Time

If you decide to ‘do it yourself’, you will have to spend a great deal of time researching and carrying out the processes, with the dangers of making any mistakes hanging over your head.

As solicitors, we can manage probate quickly and effectively. Not only are we experts in the process, but the Probate Registry and other organisations will deal with us much faster than a member of the public.

We will let you know how long we think the process will take, keep you updated, and continually work to keep up progress, while you are able to spend your time on what is important to you.

While you spend your precious time with those you love, you can allow us to handle the demanding course of probate, leaving the process safe in our hands.

Working with us

We have been working with families in the Sussex area for over 100 years and we know that many do want to have an involvement after the death of a loved one. One legal service doesn’t fit all – every family and client is unique. Because of that, we tailor our services to what fits you best.

You might want to clear the property, deal with utility bills, and distribute items that have been left to individual beneficiaries.

Alternatively, you may find yourself in a position where you need a more hands on approach from us. We provide additional services, such as help with the funeral arrangements, collecting and distributing assets amongst the beneficiaries, and arranging the cleaning of the property. For a more in-depth look at our services, click here.