Can I do ‘DIY’ probate? – 6 Questions You Need to ask Yourself Before Starting the Probate Process Alone
Probate is often seen as an incredibly stressful period of time. When handling a deceased person’s estate, the legal requirements and various complex tasks can seem to be overwhelming. Especially if you choose to do parts of it yourself.
Before handling any of the process alone, we have compiled a list of questions to ask yourself before you start. We include why it is an important part of the process as well as the potential repercussions if it is completed incorrectly.
Are you reporting everything to HMRC?
If you fail to report and register all relevant information with HMRC accurately and in a timely manner during the probate process, this could lead to personal liability in the future. HMRC must be accurately informed of the deceased person’s estate in order to calculate the inheritance tax due. Moreover, the estate could be missing out on claiming the maximum allowances and reliefs available which could lead to higher tax bills for the estate and its beneficiaries.
Not to mention if anything does end up being wrong this could cause a delay in obtaining probate, as well as any mistakes that might be expensive and time-consuming to rectify.
Are you maximising available funds in the estate to minimise the interest on tax?
If you find that you are a personal representative of the deceased’s estate then you are usually liable for paying the inheritance tax due and will be expected to consider all sources of funds to pay this – which can include using your own funds.
However, there can be another option. Once a person has passed, available funds within their bank accounts and any liquid funds available can be used to pay this. Any bank that is involved in the government’s Direct Payment Scheme can release funds directly from the deceased’s bank account or building society to pay HMRC (if a bank is not a part of this scheme, they may have their own funds-release initiative in place to pay inheritance tax fees and interest).
Are you attempting to sell the deceased’s property before probate?
Whilst processing the loss of a loved one, you may think the best course of action is to sell their property as soon as possible, in order to have more available funds for the probate process. You are allowed to put a property up for sale after someone has died but until probate has been granted, you can’t actually sell the property. This can be inconvenient for prospective buyers as probate can last months which means you would have to find a buyer willing to wait. Moreover, house prices and mortgage rates might change in the future and your buyer might end up pulling out or giving you an offer lower than what you expected.
Are you registering the estate as complex?
There are many aspects that are considered when registering an estate and one very important factor to understand is whether or not the estate you are representing is complex or not.
The valuation of the estate, assets and the total Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax due have certain criteria to fill in order to be classed as a complex estate. Other factors can include whether the deceased had overseas assets or had a business which they gained funds from.
Lastly, if the deceased was in significant debt, or a complex financial arrangement, this can also complicate matters.
Due to many factors that need to be taken into consideration when an estate is classed as complex, it may be easier to get a solicitor involved in order to make sure that everything is being registered correctly.
Did the deceased give out gifts within the last 7 years?
Not declaring any gifts that were given within the 7 years prior to the deceased’s death can put you in hot water. Although you may not be aware that any gifts have been given, HMRC can look through past bank transactions and trace large payments to friends and family.
The best idea is to check with immediate family and close friends if the deceased has ever given them a gift, or to have a solicitor reach out and check. Alternatively, you could obtain 7 years’ worth of bank statements to investigate.
Have you registered every trust?
Trust management is one of the most complicated aspects of probate, as various trusts can arise under a Will, or if minors are involved for example. You should read the trust deed or Will very carefully to make sure any trusts that arise are reported correctly. In the event someone passes away, looks for any clauses or sections that refer to the trustees death and who will take over the role, or whether the trust will continue to operate.
Probate Solicitors Brighton
The probate process is a mammoth task that can take a lot of effort and responsibility. If you would like to take on some of the responsibility but would like help from a solicitor to make sure everything is organised officially, then please get in touch with us. We can tailor the process to your needs and wants, as well as what you feel capable and comfortable doing.
You can get in touch with our supportive and expert team on 01273 604 123.