How to avoid the Probate scandal?

Everyone agrees that banks and solicitors usually charge too much for Probate work - so who should you choose?

There are two main alternatives:

Firstly - you could appoint a relative or friend to act as your Executor.

Would a relative or friend really be the best choice? Do they have sufficient legal and tax knowledge - especially if a problem arises? What if they make a mistake - for which they're personally liable?

Our lifestyles and estates are far more complex these days - as is the legislation - and consequently Probate work is now well beyond the ability of most lay Executors. Despite claims to the contrary, dealing with an estate is usually lengthy, detailed and technical. You can be certain that very little happens automatically and there's a great deal of work to be done. This should not be surprising if you consider that you're sorting out the affairs of the deceased's entire lifetime!

Most people seriously underestimate how long it now takes to properly administer an estate, how stressful it can be, and the difficulty of the task. Consequently many lay Executors do run into serious difficulties.

Estates these days contain a greater range of assets, are much more complex, and are of higher value than in the past and few estates can really be described as simple to administer. Some estates may seem straightforward at first, but a few weeks later something often happens to cause difficulties, which may tempt the unwary to cut corners.

And the generally higher value of estates has inevitably caused a greater number of expensive and protracted family disputes in the Courts.

What's more, would your Executor be hindered by family or work commitments, do they live overseas or some distance away, is their health failing, or have they simply agreed to act out of some misplaced 'duty' to you - without properly thinking through the implications?

Many lay Executors simply hand over the job like a hot potato to a solicitor or bank - and back you go to the overcharging!

Secondly - you can appoint a Probate specialist to act as Executor

Why not simply appoint a professional Executor - such as Wealthguard - in your Will to act on your behalf after your death - on a pre-agreed fixed monetary fee basis?

Alternatively, if you're an Executor or Administrator and the death has already occurred, you can appoint a professional Executor like Wealthguard to act on your behalf as your Attorney - again on a fixed monetary fee basis.

In both cases, this will fix the cost and relieve the Executors of the burden.

  • Institute of Professional Willswriters
  • The Office of Fair Trading
OFT approved code of practice
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