Why it pays to get support from a probate solicitor


Wills, Probate, Trusts & Inheritance - 4 minutes read

You don’t have to work with a probate solicitor to administer someone’s estate. As the Personal Representative, it is perfectly acceptable to take it on yourself and there is no obligation to get any legal advice if you can confidently handle all the elements of the administration.

However, the process is often not easy or straightforward, especially if you are dealing with a complex estate or if the Will is unclear, and therefore you may benefit from getting some advice from a probate specialist. They will definitely save you time, and could also protect you from being liable for any errors. As a Personal Representative you are personally liable.

But most importantly, an expert probate solicitor could save you money, by making sure you don’t overpay on taxes and ensuring that important deadlines are not missed.

Protect you from overpaying inheritance tax

A specialist inheritance tax advisor will use their expertise to ensure that as the Personal Representative of the estate, you do not overpay on inheritance tax.

There are a number of exemptions that are often missed by those that have limited experience dealing with large or complex estates that could lower the amount of inheritance tax that is payable. An expert probate solicitor can ensure that you benefit from any that are relevant.

Furthermore, it is possible to redirect inheritance using a Deed of Variation, and a Personal Representative can advise you of the options available as well as the consequences.

Accurately calculate any income tax due

If you are not an expert in income tax and the tax affairs of the deceased, trying to understand their tax history, during their lifetime and immediately following their death could be a challenge – and it is all too easy to miscalculate it.

It’s worth remembering that, as the Personal Representative, you are responsible for paying any further HM Revenue and Customs tax bills that are owed in relation to the estate if the tax was not calculated accurately. This is true even if you have already distributed the entire estate – putting you personally at risk.

Help to minimise Capital Gains Tax fines and interest payable

There would be no Capital Gains Tax due against the estate on any property or other assets that were not sold before the person died. However, if the value of an asset increased during the time between when the person died and when the asset was sold during probate then there may be Capital Gains to pay, which would be calculated based on the increase in value since the person’s death. However, the tax could potentially be mitigated and a specialist probate solicitor would be able to advise you on this.

When dealing with an Estate, the Personal Representative is responsible for considering and settling any Capital Gains Tax due within 60 days of completion of residential property. Failure to do so could result in penalties and interest being imposed.

Ensure you meet any deadlines in relation to the estate

Tax payment deadlines are often very strict, and missing them can result in fines in addition to any interest that must be paid.

A probate solicitor can assist in minimising the amount of tax that must be paid and ensure that it is done so without any expensive delays.

Protect you from any financial penalties

If you are acting as a Personal Representative, whether that be as executor or administrator, you are responsible for administering the estate – and are personally liable for any errors that are made.

A probate solicitor can make sure that all the necessary information is gathered and reported, safeguarding you from any fines. They possess the experience and knowledge necessary to manage all of the procedural obligations, including ensuring that the correct tax is paid, notices are given, and all accounts are handled in accordance with the law.

Knowing that everything is being done correctly will give you peace of mind and reduce what you could be held accountable for. All solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) – abiding by strict codes of professional conduct, so you can be sure you are in safe hands.

Save you valuable time

As the saying goes, time is money. A probate expert will know exactly what is required by HMRC and the Court, so will be able to speed up the process by knowing what steps to take when. It is also worth considering that a multidisciplinary firm would also be able to offer you additional support to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible, by helping you with a house sale, or providing advice in the event of an inheritance dispute.

Talk to us

We are here to provide as much, or as little help as you require, whether you want a one off meeting to get some legal advice on the probate process, have ongoing support, or if you want an expert to manage the process from start to finish.

Our specialist probate team can talk to you online, over the phone or in person in Oxford, Wallingford, and the Cotswolds, or at a location that is convenient for you. Get in touch with them today.