Alex Mitchell, partner and head of the probate team at Watsons Solicitors in Warrington, is seeing an increasing number of cases be delayed or incur financial penalties due to a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach.
And Alex, who is a student member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Group, is keen for people to avoid issues during an already challenging and emotional time.
“Losing a loved one brings many emotions to the fore,” she said.
“Our single aim is to help those named as an executor of the will avoid unnecessary concerns and worries.
“For example, there are technical details that might not be apparent or noticed when filling in the relevant forms to obtain grant of probate.
“One common hurdle is the topic of Inheritance Tax. Getting this information incorrect could lead to financial penalties and delay the process. In addition, some people assume relatives including nephews and nieces qualify for the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB). However, the RNRB only applies to direct descendants such as children and grandchildren.
“It’s these technical details that make it imperative the executor speaks to a solicitor experienced in wills, probate, and inheritance.”
Alex, a wills and probate lawyer with more than 14 years’ experience, believes a lack of knowledge around probate could be a cause of the problem.
She added: “We often get asked ‘why do I need probate if there is a will?’.
“We don’t make the rules – but we are there to support people. It’s important to remember that the purpose of probate is to protect people’s estates and ensure it is passed to the intended parties.
“It also provides accountability. In order to be granted probate, you have to swear on oath that you will administer the estate properly. Also, it holds the executors to account and they can be summoned to appear in court to answer any queries.
“At Watsons Solicitors we can provide as little or as much involvement as is required. This can extend from simply checking and filling in forms, to sorting through boxes of documents, to attending the property to undertake checks.
“One of our clients commented that dealing with us relieved a huge amount of stress. She was able to advise friends and family to contact Watsons, which removed her from arguments and issues.”
The team of experienced solicitors each hold various accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.
"Its important to remember that the purpose of probate is to protect peoples estates and ensure it is passed to the intended parties."
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