The Pitfalls of DIY Online Probate
A probate application system has been rolled out by the Government which gives people the option to complete probate via an online portal, rather than turning to a probate registry or solicitor. It has been developed as part of HMCTS £1bn court reform which aims to make the justice system easier to access for everyone.
This online probate service is now available to most named executors in England and Wales, allowing up to four joint applicants to apply, pay and swear a statement of truth. In order to use the portal, the deceased must have been a permanent resident in England or Wales and the applicant must be named as an executor and possess the original Will.
The new portal is only for simple and straightforward estates. For those with more complex cases, legal assistance is still vital. Complex cases can quickly become difficult to administer and mistakes can be made which can cause further issues down the line.
How Can a Solicitor Add Value?
Breakdown Legal Jargon
In paperwork relating to wills, estates and trusts, complicated terminology is often used. It is vital that executors have a full understanding of the details within the documentation. A solicitor can help to translate the information, ensuring important information isn’t missed or overlooked.
Trusts can be complex legal documents that not only need to be completely understood by the executor, but may also require legal advice from a solicitor.
Applicants are often unaware of their responsibilities for dealing with large sums of money and the potential liability they may face personally if mistakes occur during the probate process.
Inheritance Tax must be paid within six months of a death and sometimes an Inheritance Tax account will need to be completed. By trying to deal with a probate case on top of daily responsibilities, delays could occur in the process and penalties could be enforced. Professional legal advice will help keep on top of the process. Solicitors will review all financial transactions and figures to ensure the correctness of a report, undertaking complex tax calculations where necessary.
There are several applications and processes to follow. A solicitor can help guide you on how and when to fill out the various forms.
Face to Face
There is no substitute for being able to speak to a person who can answer queries directly and who can deal with the vagaries of probate that can arise.