If you are a testator or have been appointed as an executor of a will, attempting to avoid probate without the help of a professional solicitor may seem tempting if you want to reduce legal costs.
However, the process can be complicated for inexperienced executors to handle and can present many issues that will delay the process, costing much more than if a probate solicitor had been used.
We cover three common areas where complications can arise, and how professional probate solicitors can help executors and testators avoid probate:
1. Validity of the Will
A solicitor can check that the testator has drafted and executed their will properly and confirm that it is valid. Whether or not probate is needed depends on a range of factors, including the size and complexity of the estate, but a valid will can help to avoid it.
Professional solicitors can guide you through the will writing process and advise on ways to legally avoid probate, such as:
- Jointly holding assets with someone (eg., a spouse) who has the right to inherit those assets.
- Having a small estate (giving out gifts can help to reduce the size of the estate).
- Making sure that any disputes between heirs are ironed out.
Moreover, if a problem with the will occurs that invalidates it, a professional probate solicitor will be able to advise you on what to do accordingly.
2. Dealing with Probate Fraud
Avoiding probate also means avoiding fraud. It can be committed in numerous ways, such as fraudulently modifying wills, ignoring directions in a will to misappropriate assets, and diverting funds away from beneficiaries by criminal gangs.
Professional probate solicitors can reduce the chances of probate fraud from occurring by advising executes on how to take precautions and do their duties correctly. They also have the processes and procedures in place to stop criminals from intercepting transfers of funds.
If probate fraud is suspected, a solicitor can alleviate the burden by resolving the fraud issues themselves.
3. Gathering Information
As an executor, gathering information on the deceased person’s estate can be very time-consuming and complex. However, a professional probate solicitor can take over many of these duties, such as contacting banks, building societies, and credit card companies. They can also get a valuation of a property and its contents.
In regards to avoiding probate, a solicitor can ensure the estate is settled without having to go through probate if there is a valid will and the assets are non-probate assets. Examples of these include:
- Assets held in a living trust
- Retirement accounts with named beneficiaries
- Property held in a Transfer on Death (TOD) account
- Life insurance policies with named beneficiaries
- Jointly owned property with survivorship rights
How Legacy Wills and Probate can Help
Using an experienced solicitor can not only help you avoid probate, but can also shorten the process of obtaining probate if it is required. With small fortunes at stake, it is far safer to leave it in the hands of a solicitors’, like Legacy Wills and Probate, who will ensure that everything is dealt with correctly.
Legacy Wills and Probate offer a range of probate services and can support you at ever step of the way. From applying for a Grant of Probate through to administering the estate and distributing the assets, we deal with everything so you don’t have to.
For more information on our probate services, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call our friendly team on 0333 344 4325, or email us directly at email@example.com, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.