DIY probate dangers need highlighting warns expert

Trying to take on the legal affairs of someone who has died can be a dangerous step littered with pitfalls, warns one of the region’s top law firms.

Francesca Harwood, of QualitySolicitors Mander Cruickshank said a warning from independent legal group Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) needs to be heeded by the public.

“The benefits of a professionally drafted Will include trusts, which can often save tax and bring peace of mind that assets are not frittered away,” she said.

Members of SFE have in recent years noticed a rise in people drafting wills themselves and executors or beneficiaries then coming to them for help in proving the Will and administering the estate because of problematic Will clauses. Problems range from making simple mistakes, finding that the amount of paperwork becomes too overwhelming, or even in the worst cases finding the Will has not been prepared properly so it may be invalid.

“One example, SFE noted was the case of a woman’s will that included a tax-saving trust which was poorly administered by her husband, who paid the entire estate to himself”, she said. “On this occasion, a solicitor was called in to fix the problem and avoid any more complications when the husband eventually dies,” she added.

Miss Harwood, said QualitySolicitors Mander Cruickshank work closely with families to help and support them with the legal and technical work involved in both Will preparation and estate administration.

“As specialists, we can also offer extra help by looking at the inheritance tax position of beneficiaries and aiding them in their own tax planning,” she said.

“This area can be littered with pitfalls and as the sums of money involved in estates can be significant it is better to ensure peace of mind knowing that it is all being administered correctly by experts,” she added. “

She also said that QualitySolicitors Mander Cruickshank adopt a flexible approach when administering an estate and anyone wishing to know more can contact them on 01530 510666.

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