If you’re considering administering a loved one’s estate yourself, it is worth knowing that a mistake could cost more than any savings you might have made taking the DIY probate route.When it comes to applying for probate, anything from working out tax allowances wrongly or failing to declare lifetime gifts to calculating tax incorrectly, could see bereaved families facing a penalty from HMRC of up to 100% of the tax owed and paying out more costs for professionals to sort out the mistakes.
Philip Armstrong, Wills, Trusts and Probate Partner at Jones & Co Solicitors says families can unwittingly bring more difficulties on themselves when they’re already dealing with the stress of a bereavement:
“If the estate is large, multiple children are involved, if there have been second or third marriages or no will, matters can be more complicated than first realised. It is worth seeking advice in the first instance and where necessary, asking a professional to administer the estate. It may feel like a saving to bypass legal advice with DIY probate, but more savings can often be made by getting the right advice, especially when the opportunity to claim valuable Inheritance Tax allowances and reliefs is realised.
“It can be cheaper, far less stressful and much less time consuming to pay for an estate to be professionally administered from the start.”
You may think that an estate is relatively simple and can be straightforward to apply for probate yourself, but you may not be aware of the problems until it is too late. It is better to seek advice from the start, most solicitors will offer a free initial interview. Estates with international, business and agricultural issues or large family trusts should always be seen as more suitable for a qualified wills professional to administer.
“Even if a family takes advice from a solicitor just to find out what they don’t know, this can help to prevent problems in the future.”
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