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Appointing a probate solicitor

(22 Posts)
CurlyhairedAssassin Sun 15-Jan-17 09:39:57

I am co-executor in my aunt's estate. The other is my brother-in-law. It is a substantial estate and will be well over the inheritance threshold. It also includes a property to be sold and investments. There is a will which is very clear and not too complicated. There are 3 main beneficiaries including me, although it isn't going to be split 3 ways.

Am I right in thinking that because of these facts the administration of the estate is best done by a probate solicitor?

At the moment we only have details of the solicitor who drew up the will who have obviously offered their services although we don't have details of what fees they would charge yet.

I have an acquaintance who is a sole trader solicitor who works from home who specialises in probate and estate administration so was thinking of also asking her what she charges. But I'm unsure if she'all be used to administering large sums and don't know anyone who has used her so don't have any personal recommendations.

How the hell do I go about appointing a decent solicitor who will not drag everything out or charge a high percentage, knowing that the estate is quite large? I'm feeling the responsibility of this.

How many solicitors do I need to approach?

CurlyhairedAssassin Sun 15-Jan-17 09:40:43

Sorry re the split I meant to write that it isn't going to be split EQUALLY 3 ways.

mumblechum0 Sun 15-Jan-17 12:33:07

It doesn't matter that the sole trader acquaintance works from home, she'll still have professional indemnity insurance, she'll have to have CPD training every year and, because she doesn't have the overheads of a high st office, her fees will be lower. (I'm a will writer and the same applies to me). She's also likely to give a more attentive service ime.

CurlyhairedAssassin Sun 15-Jan-17 13:57:19

Thanks. I'm assuming their working hours are more flexible too - Eve appointments etc? Could be useful as we all work full time so would be extremely difficult to arrange anything in office hours. I'm also thinking it'll be better than possible communication difficulties with an appointed solicitor in a large high street firm being unavailable or out of the office etc and passed to someone else who is unfamiliar with the case. Is that what you mean by a "more attentive service"?

MrsSiba Sun 15-Jan-17 14:10:52

Your brother in law as co-executor also has to agree with the solicitor you appoint to administer the estate.

mumblechum0 Sun 15-Jan-17 16:05:08

CurlyHaired yes, that's what I mean about being more attentive - a much smaller practice will give a personal service.

CurlyhairedAssassin Sun 15-Jan-17 17:13:06

Thanks, MrsSiba, I have already discussed with him my thoughts and he's in agreement. Do we have to consult with each other on every last thing though?! There won't be an issue as we get on and live close by etc but I just think it would have been easier if my aunt had only appointed one executor if having 2 makes decision-making more of a hassle! Maybe she thought 2 heads are better than one or something.

kath6144 Mon 16-Jan-17 19:40:11

Op - you do know that you dont have to appoint a solicitor dont you? As executors, you can administer the estate yourself, it is not difficult.

My DB and I did my mums last year, well I did it, he just checked and co-signed probate forms! It was under inheritence tax limit, but still had a house to sell, various accounts and investments to pull in.

It was all done in 5 months from her dying, we had probate within 2 months.

Compare that to my cousins estate, of which my DC were beneficiaries. The solicitors were executors and trustees for my DCs money, as both under 18 at time of death. DS turned 18 a few months after interim payment was made, but still didn't get that portion for quite a few weeks (and only after a reminder that he had turned 18!). DD's money has been handed into control of DH and I, as she was the only underage beneficiary when DS turned 18. It took 9 months for the solicitor to enact that transfer.

CurlyhairedAssassin Tue 17-Jan-17 00:12:36

Yes, Kath, I did briefly consider DIY probate. But like I say, it is WELL over IHT threshold and the property to be sold will be fairly difficult to value for probate for various reasons, which then makes it more complicated re: tax if there ends up being a vast difference beteeen that and final sale price. A substantial number of Shares add a further complication and lastly one of the beneficiaries is from a step family and while all seems amicable at the moment you just never know.

Oh, and my co-executor and I both work full time and our jobs prevent us from making non-urgent phone calls during office hours.

On balance, appointing a solicitor to handle it seems the best idea all round.

I think I've found someone but don't want to give details in case it outs me. Having done a lot of reading around probate at the weekend I've learned a lot and found it quite interesting. I would certainly consider DIY if I was ever executor on a smaller estate in future and only worked part-time.

CurlyhairedAssassin Tue 17-Jan-17 00:16:52

9 months does seem a long time for that transfer to be enacted but I would think that trusts add further complications and I guess if you were not executor you were not party to other things which might have been going on behind the scenes which might have complicated things.

MrsSiba Tue 17-Jan-17 22:37:14

You and your co executor could agree that just one of you will act and apply for the Grant of Probate/ sign forms etc which could work in your situation as you say you are in agreement with each other. Technically known as power reserved.
Would save time as only one person signing docs and therefore legal fees.

Def use a solicitor as if you are in the realms of inheritance tax there are likely to be other taxation issues upon which you should seek legal advice unless you are a tax expert.

CurlyhairedAssassin Wed 18-Jan-17 01:21:51

Thanks, MrsSiba, I'll consider that re: co-executorship.

pithivier Wed 18-Jan-17 07:45:08

Gathering all of the information together is very time consuming. We found shares and bank accounts emerging a long way into the process. It will be much quicker and less stressful to use a probate solicitor. My brother and I were co-executors but opted for just me to act , as he lived abroad. However i would have preferred to have him to share the issues with.

homebythesea Wed 18-Jan-17 07:59:30

You should get good tax advice. It is possible to change the terms of a will if all beneficiaries agree by way of a deed. It might be that it is better to set up trusts or other vehicles that will mitigate the tax bill, especially if there is no surviving spouse who can take advantage of the IHT nil rate band.

poisonedbypen Wed 18-Jan-17 08:32:55

Sorry to barge in, but does anyone know how long probate takes to come through? We seem to have been waiting ages fir my mother's (since early September, i think).

poisonedbypen Wed 18-Jan-17 08:32:57

Sorry to barge in, but does anyone know how long probate takes to come through? We seem to have been waiting ages fir my mother's (since early September, i think).

pithivier Wed 18-Jan-17 08:50:52

My mums simple Estate took 6 months.

MrsSiba Wed 18-Jan-17 22:41:45

poisoned are you waiting for the Grant of Probate in mum's estate? Is it very complex - IHT to pay, foreign assets? If not complex sounds like your solicitor has some explaining to do!

There is a 6 month deadline from date of death to pay IHT but none for obtaining a grant of probate.

kath6144 Fri 20-Jan-17 10:57:13

I guess if you were not executor you were not party to other things which might have been going on behind the scenes which might have complicated things.

Op, nothing going on behind the scenes, the estate was finalised in Feb, there was no trust actually set up by solicitors for DD as they contacted us immediately to request that we take over control of the money. DDs money sat in their client account for 9mths, we didnt even get interest on it! Totally crap solicitor, he was a mat leave stand in, and suspect had come out of retirement. I even had to remind him of some docs that DS got, but he forgot to send DD!

I would never choose to use a solicitor for probate, but can understand why in your case it is appropriate.

kath6144 Fri 20-Jan-17 11:27:34

pithivier - Gathering all of the information together is very time consuming. We found shares and bank accounts emerging a long way into the process. It will be much quicker and less stressful to use a probate solicitor.

Are you saying that finding all the info would be quicker with a solicitor? If they arent the original executor and thus not responsible for emptying the house, they will not do any searching for paperwork, but expect the executors to gather all the info and pass it over?

That was my understanding if we had used a solicitor for mums estate - I would still have done the leg work of finding everything. (We had started the PoA process when mum died and the lady dealing with it, on hearing of mums death and assuming she would deal with estate, emailed 'when you have time we can have a meeting and I will tell you what you need to find and pass on to me.' I very kindly told her we would deal with estate ourselves)

I can see that where tax is concerned, using a solicitor will make life easier, but it certainly wont be quicker in my experience

Marmitelover55 Fri 20-Jan-17 15:33:21

My brother and I were co executors of our parents estate. The estate was worth over £1m and included their house, an investment property and shares. We used a probate solicitor (one of the partners), but we agreed with him that we would do most of the leg work ourselves, which saved a lot of money (his charge was £250 per hour I think).

We decided to go on an hourly rate rather than fixed fee. We also used an accountant to help with some of the IHT calculations re gifts out of income etc. We applied for probate less than 4 months after the second death and managed to sell the property and pay all IHT within the six months deadline. I would highly recommend a good probate solicitor and trying to do as much as you can yourself to keep costs down. The amount we saved in IHT as s result of their input has probably paid the fees of the solicitor and accountant. Good luck.

CurlyhairedAssassin Fri 20-Jan-17 17:49:26

Thanks, Marmitelover, it sounds a similar case.

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