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Probate - use solicitor or another company?(25 Posts)
I'm executor of a relative's will and have been shocked at the amount of money charged by some solicitors to handle getting probate and administering the estate etc. I've come across a couple of other organisations who do the work for a fixed fee and wondered if anyone had any experience of them - Final Duties and The Probate Bureau. Or any other recommendations? Would really appreciate any feedback.
We did this ourselves. You can get a book from Smiths that explains what to do. As long as you're happy writing letters, there is no reason why you can't do it yourself.
If you hit a specific problem you can always get a solicitor for just that bit but it's not difficult. Depending how complicated the estate is, it takes a while. Ours took a year but the solicitor won't do it any quicker.
Have you had a browse around the probate service website? With all the forms and guidance on there, plus a book like the Which? guide to Wills and Probate, you should be able to do it yourself, unless it is a particularly complicated estate.
To be honest, you would end up doing most of the hard work yourself anyway, which is sorting through papers and trying to work out what there is. Writing letters to insurance companies, banks and so on is not really a specialist job, but solicitors charge huge amounts to do it for you.
We did it ourselves too - not very complicated at all.
we are in the process of using Final Duties, and have found them excellent so far. I know they are a business and like all companies want to make money, but they really are great. I have rung/emailed them so many times, with the silliest of questions, and they always take the time to go through things with me, make sure I understand whats happening.
They have sorted my solicitor, and having spoken to others we have got a very good price. I expect it all to be sorted within the next 6 wks(a very simple case though, no stocks, bonds etc.)
We could have done it ourselves, but to me this is the last thing I can do for my relative, and I want to make sure its done properly, so I have handed it over to them.
Use a solicitor who specialises in this area of law. They are trained, qualified and exerienced.
You DO get what you pay for in many cases.
You can DIY if it is straughtforward and you have the time, etc. But anything completicated then you are best with a solicitor.
Why would you not use a qualified and experienced solicitor? If you want something doing properly and all that....
DONT use a solicitor, or a bank. Well , of course you can if you want , but they are meant to be the most expensive. I would definatley look into using a probate service/broker first. The best thing to do is get quotes. YOu will be amazed at the difference some people will charge. Its disgusting. They now people arent looking for a bargain, or interested in shopping around when they are grieving and they take advantage.
For what it is worth, I do not know one probate lawyer who takes advantage of grieving families.
I do, however, know many who give advice free on the phone, who meet with executors free and explain costs fully and procedures/time scales and who do a very professional and often time and tax saving job for the ultimate beneficiaries.
If you are concerned why do you not just make an appointment with an established probate laywer and talk to him/her about the case and specifically costs? A good probate solicitor will be able to give you a very good estimate of costs.
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My mum and her cousin did it themselves when an auntie died. There was a will and they had a book to follow. All went smoothly and quite quickly.
I did it from a law pack that you can buy online for under £20. You need to be organised but to be honest, you are just collecting information that a solicitor would want from you anyway, so you may as well do the form yourself. It wasn't difficult. You do have to pay the Probate registry about £200 and you need it verified by a solicitor, which costs a fiver. It took six weeks all in all.;
I'm another advocate for doing it yourself. Get the Which Guide to Wills & Probate and work your way through the steps.
A solicitor can take up to 1.5% of the estate for doing what you can do yourself. The from is quite user friendly and there are helplines you can phone if you have a query.
Another one recently done it myself. If you can get hold of the forms you will need to complete you will see that the information they ask for is not that difficult to ascertain. Took 6 weeks here and that was with property various investments and bonds. No shares though and no debts. Provided you have the time and deal with things methodically it's not hard at all. There are many helplines you can also ring which I found to be very helpful including hmrc. Personally I wouldn't pay someone to deal with this for me.
I've done this myself, twice. If the will is straightforward it's not difficult and there's no reason why you would need someone else to do it for you. I found the HMRC website and their helpline extremely useful (though the helpline advice was before the coalition govt's slash and burn approach to the public sector really got going, so it may not be as good now as it was then). The website is here, if you haven't already found it: www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance/overview
If you're not confident with paperwork, however, or the will is complicated, it would be better to pay a solicitor.
It will do no harm to start off yourself.
You will be sending and receiving perhaps dozens of near-identical letters and sending copies of forms.
It is useful to open an Executors account at your own bank and pay everything in. Keep a careful record of all receipts and expenditure and take an inventory. When friends and relatives say "but she always wanted me to have that diamond ring" tell them you'll make a note of it and deal with it later. Many friends and relatives have a deep emotional attachment to the nicest and most valuable things. I've never had one say "she promised me that mixing bowl."
You can get a bundle of forms from the Probate Office and fill them in. If you get fed up or stuck, and the advice line doesn't help, you can always pass it on to a solicitor
who will get some minion to do all the work but charge you a high hourly fee.
You would have to gather together all the paperwork anyway, even if you were just passing it over.
If you're going to pay someone, I'd make it a solicitor. Easier to sue. But it might be doable yourself.
Another vote here for probating your relative's Will yourself. It is a straightforward process for which, should you have any need, you can seek help from your local Probate Registry or come back to this thread.
If the value of the estate exceed £5,000 the cost will be £215 plus a minimal sum for swearing an oath to the effect that the documents which accompany your application are correct.
On receipt of the grant of representation you will be empowered to administer and distrbute your relative's estate in accordance with their wishes.
Fwiw, I have administered the estates of several relatives without finding it necessary to open an Executor's account and, in the process, I have acquired a number of vintage mixing bowls and other items of kitchen equipment which are of great sentimental value to me.
I wish we had done it ourselves but the bank were named executor. I have found them to be expensive, very very slow, insensitive and uncaring, difficult to get hold of, dismissive - and did I mention expensive?
I had probate for my mum's estate and did everything myself. As one OP said, if you can write letters you can do it. You need reasonable intelligence, organisational skills, and some persistence. Stay organised, keep a record as you go along, its not that tricky and there's lots of info out thereon Govt websites. I intend to do it again when the time comes as my dad is quite poorly. I'd only use a solicitor if I hit a legally tricky situation and I'm hoping that won t be the case.
In theory you can sue solicitors if they mess up. It's not that easy though.. Tried it when they messed up on our house purchase and lease, and I got nowhere.
There are vultures in life and in every industry.
If you benefit then do it yourself, if it's a charity benefiting give it to a solicitor, why put yourself under stress that won't benefit you when grieving, be kind to yourself.
I have done it myself three times now. On the one occasion when there was a house involved and a relatively large amount of money (so potential liability to IHT) our solicitor checked the will and discharged (?) a trust which could have led to greater tax liability. He then obtained probate, based on all the figures we had supplied and later dealt with conveyancing. We dealt with everything else.
If you just left a solicitor, bank or some company do the lot you would pay a lot of money for something you can do yourself for the cost of a few stamps and stationery.
when you say meet executors for freedo you mean if they do not get the work as they can charge in exccess of £230 P/H I do not think it will be free
We employed a solicitor for the administration of our late Mothers estate
I phoned beforehand to get a rough idea of price although they were advertised as being fixed fee, at the meeting we were told the costs would be between £1800 and £3000 and take between 8-15 hours to do he also sent a letter saying that although he could not give an exact figure he could not see it costing the £3000, and it wouldtake about 6 months as my brother had all the finacial paperwork in order and took it to the meeting well we are now just under a year on and we are still not completed we dealt seperately with the house conveyancing he is now saying it will probably be another £850- £1500 more than the £3000 saying he had to fill in form IHT 400 he should have known that at the first meeting as all the details were presented to him and he is the finacial and tax expert for his firm the grant of probate was given 2.5 months ago now we will have to wait for the final invoice and get it broken down before we decide what to do next we hsve questioned him about it and he says well the 400 form take a lot of time reaaly for an expert in this field.
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