The process of probate requires people to find out what assets, money and property a deceased person has, as well as looking at distributing those items based on the wishes in their will. Often, someone will appoint a legal professional to do this for them. But it is worth asking- can you do probate yourself?
The simple answer to “Can you do probate yourself?” is “It depends.” If someone has named an executor in their will, then that person is the one who will be responsible for dealing with probate. If you feel this person is not appropriate for the role, you can contest that, but this could lead to further legal issues so you may wish to get some advice before contesting someone’s right to be an executor in this situation.
If someone dies without leaving a will, then the next of kin is entitled to handle probate if they wish. For anyone wanting to do this, you will need the correct forms (an application, Inheritance tax, registry fee, official copy of death certificate as well as the original will and three copies). Once you have all these forms, you will then need to do an interview at the probate registry, where you will need to declare an oath that this information is true.
With regard to inheritance tax, you will also need to pay any amount that is over the threshold in order to receive a grant of representation.
One reason that you may need to use a legal representative (or at least seek advice) is that the probate process can be complicated. For example, any errors in the inheritance tax form can mean you get penalised by HMRC, or you may need to sell or transfer property. There are also practical issues, such as putting a notice in the local paper.
If you are an executor responsible for probate, then you need to keep detailed records. In the event of any inaccuracies, you will end up paying out of your own pocket!
If you are doing this yourself, another possible issue is whether or not people think you are biased one way or the other to certain family members or other people involved in the claim. This is less likely if you were specifically appointed in the will, but this is something to be aware of.
This is another reason why it is advisable to seek legal advice or additional representation, as it can show that you are taking your role seriously and you have someone to show that the process is being handled as fairly as possible.
We can help
We understand that this can be a difficult and emotional time, as well as dealing with what can often be a difficult financial situation, as there may be some debate as to how assets, property and money are fairly distributed. For more information or to discuss your personal circumstances in more detail, please contact our specialist team today.