Why you should instruct a Solicitor in the administration of estates
- AuthorVictoria Reeds
When someone close to you dies, it is always an emotional and stressful time. Some people feel that administering the estate is a simple process that can be completed without the involvement of a Solicitor. This is sometimes the case, but before taking on such a role, it is worth considering the following:
If you are appointed as an Executor, and choose to take up that role, you are taking on a legal responsibility to administer the estate in accordance with the Will (or the laws of intestacy if there is no Will). This means that you may be personally responsible should you make a mistake. What appears to be a straight forward matter on the face of it can become more complicated, have you calculated the correct inheritance tax? Have you made the right distributions?
Even if there is no dispute now, there may be later on if you are found to have made a mistake.
You also need to ensure that your position as Executor is kept separate from your role as family member or friend and any decisions you make in your capacity as Executor, are made rationally and not tainted by family dynamics. Having an independent person such as a Solicitor assisting in this instance can prove invaluable.
Administering an estate can be a lengthy process. Even a straight forward matter will take months to resolve completely. Is this something you have time to deal with?
The law can change, and does! As part of their role, a Solicitor must keep updated as to legal changes. Doing so ensures that matters are dealt with quickly and efficiently as well as properly! Do you have time to keep yourself updated during this process?
Even what appears to be a straight forward estate may actually be more complex and we would strongly advise that if any of the following applies, that you seek legal advice before taking any action yourself:
- If there is or there might be inheritance tax payable
- If there is any question as to the validity of a Will
- If there is no Will and the estate is worth more than £250,000.00
- If there are dependants that are left out of the Will
- If there are any complicated provisions in the Will such as the creation of a trust
- If the estate may be insolvent
- If there is any foreign property or assets
- If the deceased was domiciled outside the UK for tax purposes.
Appointing a Solicitor to assist you takes away some of the pressure of arranging the deceased’s estate, in what can be a very painful time – giving you space to grieve.