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Probate - DIY Options?

HI All,

Following the sad death of the Mother-in-Law on Saturday at the ripe old age of 94 my wife and her sister are dealing with all the admin and death stuff that is required.

Anyone done DIY Probate? Her estate is very simple. Small house worth less than £250k. No valuable furniture/possessions. Building Society with not a lot in it. State pension and very small late husband pension. That's about it.

Anyone care to offer advice? Yay? Nay? I've no idea but have offered to help them with it.

Ta

Nic

Posts

  • Stevo_666Stevo_666 Posts: 46,534
    I was in a similar situation when my old dear passed away in 2019. Tbh I had enough on my plate clearing the house, arranging the funeral, letting everyone know, notifying all the different govt bodies etc that I could do without dealing with probate, regardless of how simple it might be (and I'm not sure about that).
    "I spent most of my money on birds, booze and fast cars: the rest of it I just squandered." [George Best]
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 13,724
    My parents did a few times. Probably better than paying a solicitor if you have the time.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,894
    Instruct a good solicitor to sell the house. That will save any prospective buyers a lot of aggro.

    (speaking from the [prospective] buyer perspective!)
    Ben

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  • me-109me-109 Posts: 1,422
    We did it when my father died. No will but survived by my mother, so maybe easier in those circumstances. Seem to remember it being no worse than tax self-assessment and getting a rough valuation on property price for estate valuation.
  • me-109me-109 Posts: 1,422

    My parents did a few times.

    I read that as 'died' 😯
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 9,603
    Depends if an up to date will has been made and all parties are in agreement. If the will is complex with numerous beneficiary's it may be worth letting a solicitor sort it out. It stops people trying to make out your fiddling the
    books. Definitely get a solicitor involved for the house sale just in case of any problems. I did my grans easily enough but there wasn't a huge estate.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,260
    me-109 said:

    We did it when my father died. No will but survived by my mother, so maybe easier in those circumstances. Seem to remember it being no worse than tax self-assessment and getting a rough valuation on property price for estate valuation.


    Yes, a remaining spouse, particularly if they've got their marbles, makes everything a lot easier (not least the funeral, as the remaining partner will probably know who should be asked).

    From when my dad died, I can't remember any problems at all, but fortunately (for a number of complicated reasons), the solicitor is doing the probate and executorship (including selling the house) for my mum's will. Costly, but worth it.
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 24,564 Lives Here
    I did it for my Dad's stuff nearly 3 years ago. Not too bad, the hardest thing was finding out the answers to questions, if it was being handled by someone else i still would have had to find the answers. But it was simple as everything goes straight to my Mum. You fill out a long form, go through it methodically using the notes to help. I had to call to clarify one point and got a straight answer. Takes a bit of time, but certainly not difficult for a simple estate.
  • bm5bm5 Posts: 254
    Done it 3 times now and ok if you have time and are fairly sure there will be no family dispute resulting.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,260
    bm5 said:

    Done it 3 times now and ok if you have time and are fairly sure there will be no family dispute resulting.

    There's the rub. A good friend of mine was executor for his dad's estate, got the probate sorted OK, but it became increasingly obvious that his brother, who had been living with his father in the house (which was the only major asset), was not going to move out voluntarily. Once probate has been granted, you can't shift the executorship onto someone else, so my friend was stuck with the decision as to whether to try to take legal action against his own brother. To cut a long story short, he's more or less given up any hope of inheriting his half.
  • This probably isn't going to be too helpful, I'm afraid, but for what it's worth, here is my opinion: avoid dealing with solicitors if you possibly can.

    My Dad died in September 2019, with his will leaving everything to my Mum. Before anything much had been sorted out, in Much 2020, she died too. Her will left everything equally to my sister and I. Not having the slightest clue about how this works, we left it all to their solicitor. He was slow, difficult to contact and deeply unhelpful, for instance not explaining what to expect, and when. Perhaps because probate, wills and so on is what he does and is very familiar, he seemed to assume his knowledge was general knowledge, and we knew the process too, even though we repeatedly said we did not and needed even the simple (to him) stuff explaining. For instance, with their bank accounts frozen, I was paying the bills on the house, in which I also live, (electricity, council tax etc). Only later did he bother to mention that the organisations involved are normally OK with waiting for probate to be granted, when bills can be paid out of the estate. Knowing that would have saved a lot of worrying over whether my savings would run out, as well as the hassle of changing the bill payer's name from my Dad's to mine.

    At one point, we arranged a meeting with the solicitor, with my sister and brother in law travelling from Norfolk, about 100 miles away, with the aim of asking as many questions about how it was all supposed to work as possible. When we got to the offices, the receptionist told us he had just left for the day, having apparently forgotten the appointment. No explanation or apology ever materialised.

    Anyway, the money from my parent's accounts, and from various investments my Dad had made, which was a fair amount, was only finally paid out a few weeks ago. A friend has told me, after being executor himself for another of his friends, that solicitors string things out as much as possible so they can charge more. I queried the solicitor's fees, suggesting that as he was dealing with two linked estates at once, it really should have been simpler (and cheaper). He replied that on the contrary, it was more complex. Maybe all solicitors are like this, maybe this particular one just happened to be a colossal wazzock, I don't know. I gave up at that point.

    We still have to sell the house, which is too big for me, and half of which belongs to my sister, but have yet to summon the energy to start the process. I think the first step is going to be to retrieve the deeds of the house from the solicitor, assuming he hasn't eaten them, or something, and find one who is a bit more competent.

    So from my experience, I would say, if you're the sort of person who is good with forms, tracking down the info to go on them, making lots of phone calls and so on (I am definitely not) you might prefer to bypass a solicitor and do it all yourself. It could at least, be quicker.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,260

    This probably isn't going to be too helpful, I'm afraid, but for what it's worth, here is my opinion: avoid dealing with solicitors if you possibly can.

    My Dad died in September 2019, with his will leaving everything to my Mum. Before anything much had been sorted out, in Much 2020, she died too. Her will left everything equally to my sister and I. Not having the slightest clue about how this works, we left it all to their solicitor. He was slow, difficult to contact and deeply unhelpful, for instance not explaining what to expect, and when. Perhaps because probate, wills and so on is what he does and is very familiar, he seemed to assume his knowledge was general knowledge, and we knew the process too, even though we repeatedly said we did not and needed even the simple (to him) stuff explaining. For instance, with their bank accounts frozen, I was paying the bills on the house, in which I also live, (electricity, council tax etc). Only later did he bother to mention that the organisations involved are normally OK with waiting for probate to be granted, when bills can be paid out of the estate. Knowing that would have saved a lot of worrying over whether my savings would run out, as well as the hassle of changing the bill payer's name from my Dad's to mine.

    At one point, we arranged a meeting with the solicitor, with my sister and brother in law travelling from Norfolk, about 100 miles away, with the aim of asking as many questions about how it was all supposed to work as possible. When we got to the offices, the receptionist told us he had just left for the day, having apparently forgotten the appointment. No explanation or apology ever materialised.

    Anyway, the money from my parent's accounts, and from various investments my Dad had made, which was a fair amount, was only finally paid out a few weeks ago. A friend has told me, after being executor himself for another of his friends, that solicitors string things out as much as possible so they can charge more. I queried the solicitor's fees, suggesting that as he was dealing with two linked estates at once, it really should have been simpler (and cheaper). He replied that on the contrary, it was more complex. Maybe all solicitors are like this, maybe this particular one just happened to be a colossal wazzock, I don't know. I gave up at that point.

    We still have to sell the house, which is too big for me, and half of which belongs to my sister, but have yet to summon the energy to start the process. I think the first step is going to be to retrieve the deeds of the house from the solicitor, assuming he hasn't eaten them, or something, and find one who is a bit more competent.

    So from my experience, I would say, if you're the sort of person who is good with forms, tracking down the info to go on them, making lots of phone calls and so on (I am definitely not) you might prefer to bypass a solicitor and do it all yourself. It could at least, be quicker.


    I think your solicitor is probably a wazzock (which might not be that rare, I'll admit). Mum's solicitor/executor, on the other hand, is being brilliant, in difficult circumstances.
  • capt_slogcapt_slog Posts: 3,586
    I / we did the father-in-laws.

    As I recall, probate is not difficult. Look up exactly what it means, and usually (when I've spoken to other non-legal, ordinary folk) this won't be what your perception of it is.

    Basically, probate (grant of probate) is the 'bit' an executor needs to legally deal with someone's estate. Normally, that isn't too difficult, you detail what the estate is and apply to the probate court, you then get the Grant (or letters of administration in some cases). If you get a solicitor to apply for the probate, they are filling in a form on your behalf.

    Once you get the Grant, you then start to deal with the estate as an executor, and that isn't too difficult either if the will is simple and you can find the who and what they are owed.

    It sounds daunting, it doesn't have to be. Read up, and if you do it, do so carefully and be honest about the estate.

    Are you the executor?




    The older I get, the better I was.

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