What can go wrong with probate?
The probate process can be complicated, and you can easily make errors if you are not sure how to approach it. Here are some things to be aware of during probate:
1. Underestimating the time probate will take: Probate can have numerous time-consuming requirements. Underestimating the time needed leads to some people rushing the process and possibly making errors. Such mistakes will cause further delays and increase administration costs.
2. Failure to interpret the will: Wills contain technical jargon with crucial meanings hidden in seemingly straightforward language. A Will may also be poorly drafted and contain ambiguities open to interpretation or amendments. Mistakes often occur during interpretation which can cause disputes between beneficiaries and executors.
3. Incomplete estate assessment: As the executor, you are responsible for the estate, including assets and liabilities. Therefore, you must take all possible measures to obtain information and settle debts. Once you distribute assets, creditors can pursue beneficiaries or bring legal action against you directly.
4. Distributing assets too early: Executors are legally required to keep up-to-date, accurate records and evidence of all payments and receipts. Making frequent or small distributions could complicate settling liabilities that may unexpectedly exceed the available funds. You could also lose track of the assets distributed and who the beneficiaries are.
5. Incorrect filing of inheritance tax and probate forms: Failing to file correctly may result in criminal or civil liability if you pay less inheritance tax than you should.
6. Failure to seek professional advice: As an executor, you can be held financially and legally accountable for any mistakes, even when the errors are genuine. A professional can advise and help you to avoid potential pitfalls.
What can delay probate in the UK?
The probate process can delay due to several factors, including:
- Paying Inheritance Tax: You must pay the inheritance tax on ‘non-property’ assets and any installments due on ‘property’ assets.
- Problems with the Will: Home-made Wills, missing pages, stains, and rips are all causes of suspicion on the authenticity of a Will. You may need evidence of validity from the witnesses and an expert to interpret ambiguous terms.
- Selling the property: Before paying inheritance tax, any property you intend to sell must be valued by at least two agents to reflect the value at the time the owner died.
- Death of an executor: Issues can arise if the executor dies before obtaining a grant. The chain of representation is then followed to get a new executor.
- Missing beneficiaries: Sometimes, it is challenging to trace relatives of the deceased and prove their connection.
- Third-party delays: Complications usually occur in asset valuation when the deceased has interests in trusts, overseas assets, or even a Will made overseas.
How can GloverPriest help?
Probate can be demanding and time-consuming. It is advisable to seek professional help to do things right to avoid mistakes and delays.
If you need to instruct a probate solicitor, please do not hesitate to contact us today to see how we can help you. Complete our enquiry form.