It is entirely possible to apply for probate and deal with an estate without seeing a lawyer, but it’s not without risks.
Heather Varley is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly and an Associate in Frettens’s Wills & Tax Team. She says “Many professionally drafted wills contain trusts to save tax, to avoid those who inherit paying care fees and to reduce the likelihood of potential disputes. Solicitors for the Elderly members have noticed an increase in ‘DIYers’ returning to them to seek advice when they have made a mistake or find the paperwork too tricky.”
As an example, Mrs A’s will had included a tax saving trust, but when her husband administered the estate, he paid the whole estate to himself. The solicitor was thankfully able to sort out the matter and avoid future complications occurring when Mr A eventually dies.
In another case, Mr G sold some shares that had made a gain during the administration of his late sister’s estate and had to pay tax. If he had transferred the shares to himself first, before selling them, he could have avoided the tax.
Heather says “People aren’t always aware of the complexities and assume probate work is straightforward. It is true that it can be, but it is also true that sometimes it isn’t. In all but the most straightforward cases, it is important to seek timely specialist legal advice. This can actually save you money and anxiety.”
As elder law specialists, Solicitors for the Elderly members can add value to their work, for example by identifying cases where money is owed to the estate for care funding which should have been met by the NHS, and can assist in making a claim.