Undoubtedly, the loss of a family member or loved one is a tragic and painful time for anyone. What makes it all the more overwhelming, stressful and potentially burdensome is dealing with the legal and financial side of things if you are chosen as the deceased’s personal administrator.
Settling the affairs of the deceased can involve mountains of paperwork, complicated jargon and assorted legal processes. While the probate work can be administered by oneself given that no complicated issues arise, it is recommended that you consult with a probate solicitor from the beginning at the time of the death to soften the blows and prevent you from making avoidable yet costly mistakes.
The role of the personal administrator
The personal administrator or executor of the will is the person chosen to administer the estate; usually the closest relative to the deceased who is instructed to follow their final wishes. A grant of representation needs to be obtained from a probate registry that permits you to administer the estate accordingly.
As you are dealt with the mammoth task of organising the deceased’s estate, the time it takes to reach completion with all the loose ends tied up could be up to a year given that there are not any nasty surprises, complications or personal disagreements amongst those left behind that might extend that time frame. There could be complications which were long forgotten with regards to the estate that could suddenly have an impact going forward.
You or your solicitor are required to collate information about the person’s assets and personal liabilities to draw up what is known as their estate. The estate comprises of property, as well as personal assets both tangible and intangible, as well as outstanding debts.
These considerable responsibilities give reason to consider the services of an affordable probate lawyer who has a wealth of experience in such matters.
Qualities of a good probate solicitor
The role of a lawyer of this kind is multi-faceted and incorporates a range of skills, including administration (there is an enormous amount of paperwork to be handled), accountancy when dealing with money matters, and more importantly, the ability in showing compassion to their grieving clients while providing professional services that cater for their needs.
Times when solicitors are most needed
The most cut and dry cases might not need the guidance of a solicitor, but complications do arise that require the assistance of a specialist in making informed decisions.
One of the biggest problems emerges when a will has not been drawn up outlining the allotment of the inheritance or a will that is deemed invalid in the eyes of the law. Rules of Intestacy, which are the rules that dictate who gets what, must be followed and overseen by a solicitor to ensure fair and equal distribution occurs under these circumstances. The existence of specific complex arrangements, however, such as joint ownership of property leads to the surviving partner automatically inheriting everything while others receive nothing, could lead to inner-family disputes.
Other factors that might delay or complicate things is when relatives, who are left out the will, contest their exclusion or when an estate is declared or suspected bankrupt. A state of bankruptcy or insolvency is defined as being when the deceased debts are greater than the value of their assets. In these instances, assets are liquidated to pay off debts, leaving family members with nothing to inherit.
Death and taxes are the only certainties in life, yet still, the loss of a loved one is never easy, especially when the mourning period is punctuated by the complicated handling of the deceased’s affairs. However you can make this difficult time easier by seeking out legal advice.
Ultimately, the advantages of employing the services of a solicitor outweigh the costs, especially when you consider the fact that your legal counsel has experience in these matters, and they are likely to have dealt with cases similar to yours. Payment either works by the hour or fees are calculated according to a percentage of the value of an estate.