I am becoming increasingly concerned at the amount of my clients who are going to great lengths to ensure that they appoint the most appropriate Executors for their estate within their Wills only to have those same Executors realise when the time comes that the amount of work involved and the liabilities attached to completing the task they have been elected to complete is too great and subsequently end up appointing a Solicitor to complete the probate for them often costing the estate £1000s because the chosen Solicitor has fees of 4 or 5% of the gross estate value or even higher in some cases.
This is simply crazy when we give all of our clients a certificate of guarantee when they receive their documents from us stating that we will conduct probate on their estate for just 1.75% of the net total
The difference between gross total and net total is gross includes the value of everything within Trusts when establishing fee for conducting probate
Net disregards all assets within Trusts
Because we strongly advise all of our clients to place their properties into Trust either during their lives or upon death and we also disregard all assets in Trust when conducting probate, our fees for conducting probate are subsequently far less than a traditional Solicitor as that which is usually the largest part of the estate (the property) is not included in the valuation of the estate for probate purposes but is immediately available upon death to the appointed beneficiaries.
To avoid this very costly scenario repeatedly unfolding over time we urge our clients to:
a) Appoint us as the sole Executors of the Will or
b) Appoint us as the reserve Executors of the Will or
c) Ensure that everyone in the family and most importantly the Executors know that we have provided the Testator/Testatrix with a certificate of price guarantee for conducting probate
d) Not to go automatically to a local Solicitor but instead look through the Will papers thoroughly and find our details
e) Let us know immediately the death occurs so we can advise way before valuable funds have been committed elsewhere
As a reminder this is what probate involves:
· Registering the death and arranging the funeral
· Gathering together all of the information about the Estate. It's important to do this very carefully. If assets and/or debts are missed at this stage, it can cause problems later on.
· Valuing the Estate for Probate and Inheritance Tax. This normally means talking to Estate agents and other valuers, and also corresponding with banks, building societies, share registrars, insurance companies and many others. This part can be time consuming, as you need to rely on a lot of different people and organisations to give you what you need.
· Preparing tax returns for Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. Dealing with tax is often one of the most difficult parts of being an Executor. HM Revenue & Customs can impose harsh financial penalties if incorrect or inaccurate information is put down in tax returns, so avoiding errors is more important than ever.
· Applying to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Probate. This is the legal document that confirms the Executor's authority to deal with the Estate.
· Selling property and collecting in other assets. A particularly important responsibility Executors have is making sure they achieve the best possible price when selling property. If they don't, they can face criticism and even legal action from the beneficiaries of the Estate.
· Paying debts and expenses. These might include the funeral, utility bills, taxes and the fees of any professionals you have involved in the Estate, such as Probate Solicitors.
· Ensuring that the beneficiaries receive their inheritances. This can mean paying out cash legacies, transferring assets (such as property) and also paying out what is called the 'Residuary Estate'. This is essentially what is left of the Estate after all the debts, expenses, taxes and legacies have been paid.
· Preparing detailed Estate accounts showing how all of the money in the Estate was dealt with. It's very important that Estate accounts are accurate, as errors can result in assets and/or debts being missed, and the wrong amounts being paid out to beneficiaries.
The above list does not cover everything. A lot of what an Executor has to do to carry out their responsibilities depends on the specific Estate they have to deal with.
Large and complicated Estates come with a lot more risk and responsibility than small and straightforward Estates. It's worth mentioning, though, that just because an Estate is small, that does not necessarily mean it's straightforward.
Please come and see us and make sure you are not leaving a massive headache to your Executor(s) when you die
Thy Will Be Done – 46 Goring Road Worthing BN12 4AD