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magpienja
8th Mar 2015, 20:51
Hi all...my mother in law passed away a few weeks ago...she named my wife as executor...my motor in law has left her house to my wife and my wife's 3 sisters....not a great value at around 80k.

She has been told you can get Probate completed these days with a downloaded form...and do it on a DIY basis...my wife's friend went down this route a few years ago saying she had no problem with it and will help my wife complete the forms and she will save a good amount of dosh.

I am not so sure this is the best route to go...

Anybody who has tried this way of doing things I would love to read some of your comments.

Seldomfitforpurpose
8th Mar 2015, 21:03
Just going through the same scenario as you but using a solicitor at a quoted cost of between 2 and 3k. Met an old work colleague of my wife's in the high street last week she told us she just did it herself and found it to be about as simple as it gets, if only we had known :}

Fortyodd2
8th Mar 2015, 21:10
I did the DIY route when my Dad passed away. First attempt was not good as there were gaps in the notes and it kept asking for info that I didn't have. I ended up doing a "dummy run" to make sure I had everything I needed ready to hand. This was back in 2010 and things may have improved since - when I finally got it signed off, the registrar wasn't very complimentary about the way it had been set up or the accompanying notes and was suggesting a re-write was already in progress.

Donkey497
8th Mar 2015, 21:17
Making the assumption that you are dealing with English Law....


Your wife is both an Executor and a named Beneficiary. This is NOT a clean situation where you want to leave your better half exposed to any legal risk or accusations of not doing anything by the book.


It'll cost more, but for peace of mind, I'd at least get advice, if not active participation from your local legal beagle.

Checkboard
8th Mar 2015, 21:25
The question is - how close is your wife's family?

If she is close to her three sisters, there will be no problem with DIY probate. :ok:

If one gets the hump on the inheritance, it's lawyers at 10 paces ... :ooh:

vulcanised
8th Mar 2015, 21:33
Went the DIY route when Mum died.

Easy and quick.

Blues&twos
8th Mar 2015, 21:39
My dad recently did the whole thing DIY when his mum died. It was straightforward, but the will was very simple with no house involved.

Helol
8th Mar 2015, 21:39
I was also Executor and a beneficiary.

I did everything myself, including selling dad's house. It is do-able. One tip - be absolutely scrupulous in record keeping.

Whether anyone gets the hump or not, providing you do everything by the book, and able to show all records if requested, including receipts/expenses/ etc you have nothing to worry about.

I actually had a half hour appointment with a probate lawyer, who reassured me I was doing everything in accordance with the law. She never charged me either!

Loose rivets
8th Mar 2015, 23:05
The Rivetess' mother had Midland bank as her executors but we called them and three men in suits arrived and gave us the okay to handle things. All went well.

When we came to sell the bungalow, she set about doing the conveyancing. She'd had experience with one other do-upper we'd sold a while before with skills learned in 'Conveyancing Fraud' by Michael Joseph. Still a best seller by the look of it.

However, now, the buyer's lawyer - sorry, solicitor, was a real pompous @rse. He really let us know how much he disapproved of a layperson doing his immensely sophisticated work. Finally, we got his practices' cheque. It was about 10% too much. My wife phoned him and told him there was a mistake in the accounts. He blazed into her until she told him we owed him money. Even then, he just tersely told us to put the matter in order, and hung up. Hard to believe, and I'd have made him beg for the money, but the Rivetess just paid the refund and went on her peaceful way.

India Four Two
8th Mar 2015, 23:13
My sister did the probate on our Mum's estate with no issues.

One thing she did was made sure that she cleared any of her decisions with my brother and me (the only other beneficiaries) and made sure she kept an email trail of all decisions and approvals. Saved us a bundle of money on solicitors fees.

charliegolf
8th Mar 2015, 23:30
I've done it twice- the second very similar to your scenario. One was with a will, the other without. There were no issues in my experiences- go for it.

CG

charliegolf
8th Mar 2015, 23:33
If one gets the hump on the inheritance, it's lawyers at 10 paces ...

Not if there is a valid will. Contesting a will is a HUGE uphill struggle, with a very narrow set of grounds.

CG

Ripline
9th Mar 2015, 01:11
My sympathies to you, it goes without saying.

I have to declare a semi-pathological dislike and distrust of the thoroughness of the average high street solicitor. I have form in this area having conducted two property conveyances, two probates, one LPA and one divorce. Having said that :-

In my opinion there is nothing in the process of obtaining probate for an estate which is simple (ie the deceased owned the property outright, had no outstanding debts that could not be covered by the residue of the estate and a simple tax status) that could not be understood and completed by the average person who is prepared to devote a bit of time to the process. Same with conveyancing, which is why a lot of solicitors dislike the diy route.

As co-executors and primary beneficiaries my sister and I have dealt with both our parent's deaths without too many problems, most officials are very willing to help complete the process and most authorities (medical, utilities, registrars) are understanding and sympathetic to bereaved executors to a suprising degree. As mentioned above, keep simple records of what you have done and why: you'll not have anyone on the tax or probate side making trouble, our experience was made easier by their advice when they understood what we were trying to achieve.

Banks & building societies all have their ownslightly different procedures: some seem very reluctant to engage at local level ("it's all handled by Head Office - we can't make any decisions here" is a frequent mantra) and others couldn't be more helpful. Rather suprisingly we found that the Post Office is one of the better outfits to deal with. Prevention of fraud is the uppermost driver in most of these cases, bear this in mind and always have the right certificates and proof of identities on hand.

You certainly find out a lot about how our society deals with bereavement and the practical side of things and it's amazing the misconceptions that the ordinary members of the public often have about what can and cannot be done without recourse to the legal profession.

Best of luck with it, won't you come back and share your experiances with us?

Ripline

VP959
9th Mar 2015, 10:10
In my experience, DIY legal work like probate and conveyancing is fine for the majority of cases. The work is neither onerous or complex to understand, but there will be cases where it would be best to get a legally qualified person involved, if anything looks to be out of the ordinary.

I've not handled probate (but have looked at it, and much of the time is seems pretty straightforward and a good candidate for a DIY job), but I have done a fair bit of conveyancing, both for myself and for my brother when he bought his first house.

Generally conveyancing is easy, but a bit onerous, and a DIY job (especially on purchase) will more likely to be a bit more thorough than the job a solicitor or conveyancer will do, just because most people can afford to spend a bit more time doing extra searches themselves, over and above those legally required.

The first time I did a conveyance I was confronted with an extremely obnoxious and pompous solicitor acting for our seller. He was a complete pain, right through the process, culminating in him wanting cash for the balance between our mortgage and the proceeds of the sale of our old house on completion day, rather than accept a bank transfer. He wound me up so much that I was determined to get everything absolutely correct, so when I went to hand him the completion monies and receive the keys, I duly recited the phrase that must, by law, be given and answered to make the completion legally binding (it's an old bit of property contract law that's largely fallen into disuse now).

He looked a bit bemused, and said nothing. I pointed out that without the correct response from him the contract would not be binding, as he should know, being a qualified lawyer. At this point he turned away and started rummaging through law books, found the relevant law and gave the correct response, whereupon I handed him the cash and bank cheque from the lender and he gave me the keys.

At this point his manner changed completely, and he smiled and complimented me on having done a job as well as, or better than, one of the professionals he was used to dealing with, and apologised for having been a little obstructive earlier.

Since then I've had many mistakes made during various house moves by solicitors, most of which I've picked up by double-checking their work (the government was paying their bill, hence me not doing it myself each time).

I'd not trust a solicitor to do run-of-the-mill work like this without very careful checking, even now, as the errors some make are truly appalling. Having said that, when things go wrong you could be very grateful for their professional indemnity cover

jimtherev
9th Mar 2015, 10:44
... and VP's last clause is probably the most important statement of this thread so far.
We've just concluded a complicated (13 month) transaction which involved a couple of harridans guilty of 'elderly grooming' which milked an old duck of upwards of 30 grand.
We dared not do it ourselves... there was no way of predicting what the witches would do next.

cockney steve
9th Mar 2015, 12:10
When my father died, some 48 years ago, my sister and I had no idea of the legal formalities.....his solicitor read the will and my sister, who was married with young children, left me to it (we were sole beneficiaries) we never filed probate, etc....
Forward 46 years to 2012. my partner's daughter died of cancer aged 41....her partner and father of her 4 kids had left her some 3 years previously. they were not married, her mother and late father were not married.

Therefore, the eldest daughter, being just over 18, was legally next of kin....she emptied her mother's bank account and "did a runner2. Fortunately, the children's father reappeared and took custody of the 3 youngsters.
My partner and I arranged the funeral (and paid for it) and emptied the Council house , with the aid of the deceased's ex-partner (the children's father)
we made an itemised list of the Estate, with valuations.

No probate, no legal mandate, had to produce a copy of the death certificate to her (the deceased's) bank to finalise that.....
6 months later, my partner died.....now, things start getting messy!!!!

Pam died intestate, the same eldest granddaughter was , legally, next of kin....Police had a word with her and she agreed to jointly bury Pam, (her Nan) and settle her estate jointly with me..... cutting a long saga short, she tried to cash in insurance policies and empty the bank account, whilst breaking appointments with undertakers and avoiding creditors.

WHAT I LEARNED....In consultation with the father, he got her into a solicitor's to sign -over her duties of Administration, to her father... 200.fee.

NO NEED! Phoned the local Probate-Registry (Coroner's Office gave me the number) A simple form, FREE, get it signed by the person rescinding their duties (to CYA get an independent witness to sign as well!)
Drafted out a quick note from father, assigning executor's duties to me....faxed details to Coroner, who finally released the body for burial.

Meanwhile, A bit of trawling was needed to produce an earlier marriage and divorce documents for the deceased (Kew, used to be Somerset house) 60 for a 10 year search....There is a multi-page Inland Revenue form to fill in, again, the Estate was under the threshold for Estate duty, so that was a formality....
The Probate registry insisted that as the 4 grandchildren were sole beneficiaries, 3 were Minors and the other, having rescinded authority, was also, effectively a minor, 2 Executors HAVE to be appointed (Agood safeguard of the kids' interests.

As has been said,

Keep accounts of cash in and out....I got rebates on TV licence, Gas. Electricity, phone, rent rebate.
There was a dust-up with the bank who refused to release the funds on the basis the funeral bill had been receipted, they also refused to send the cash direct to the undertaker. Head Office apologised and announced they had a dedicated Bereavement Team. no doubt the arrogant person at the branch, received "remedial Training"

In consultation with the elder of the 3 minors, their father and his partner,(who is the other executor) , It was decided that insurance monies paid for the funeral, an inscription added to the gravestone of their Grandfather, where their Nan now rests, and a new, matching stone be erected on their mother's grave.

AIUI, The Probate-registry will not bother you. provided there is no complaint to them, they let sleeping dogs lie.

Inland revenue want their multi-page form completing.....It looks intimidating, it's not!

Sometimes, beaurocracy overrides common sense..

Probate Registry INSISTED I had to send the original copy of the divorce-Certificate.. a Laser copy or even a Certified Copy would not do!.....but the original was actually a photocopy, as the page-edge clearly showed the dog-eared original.....the only thing was, it had "wet stamps" where the stamp-ink had soaked into the paper.....the laser copy produced these with a slightly shiny surface...that's all...there wasn't even an embossed seal.



Mother died slightly before these 2 events, she left the majority of her estate to my sister, who sorted everything with the aid of a solicitor, who had custody of her will

CONFIRMATION OF SOLICITOR INCOMPETENCE

same solicitor had written the will and sent it to be signed and witnessed.....several years later, they discover the date had been altered by one of the signatories and expected Sis to pay extra because they hadn't checked properly before filing it away. I think she suggested the Law Society might like to mediate.....they backed down!

Bit of a long ramble....but, there you are, It's not rocket science, Revenue, Probate registry, National Archive Office, Coroner's office are all extremely helpful.

I have heard of horrendous bank /solicitor charges for these relatively simple tasks. you really doin't need them, unless you are time-poor.

pzu
9th Mar 2015, 13:06
DIY Probate is relatively straightforward providing Death Duties aren't involved; the problems come with the 'Nick nack's' - jewelry, medals etc where there are no clear instructions as to disposal - the strict route is Sell everything and divide the cash, but this may not suit everyone - I still have a bitter taste over MiL's fathers WWI medals- a niece borrowed them to show her children!!! Never came back, I wanted to pass them to a grandson who was in the Army
Re property each time I've been Executor have used the conventional route
As stated above keep a good Audit trail and Communicate!!!! Also where possible set up an Executors bank account and don't be soft ensure your expenses are covered

PZU - Out of Africa (Retired)

ChickenHouse
9th Mar 2015, 14:56
If there is the slightest possibility for fighting, go for an external. It would not be the first family smashed to pieces on such an occasion. Party of 4 is a lot of potential for all kind of stupid things to happen, similar to a divorce, so she should be sure a DIY approach is carried by all without any trouble.

RatherBeFlying
9th Mar 2015, 18:08
Nick naks tend to get appropriated in moments after demise.

Us old codgers would do well to video the lot and send copies to all beneficiaries.

I suggest a provision that all items desired by more than one party be put in a pile. Flip a coin or draw straws for first grab; then alternate.

That said, there's usually much more stuff nobody wants.

wrecker
9th Mar 2015, 18:45
I have done three case of probate now, 2 as executor and one as administrator. I all cases they have been very straight forward to do. And in all cases I have found the probate office very helpful.
I had one issue where as administrator a bank refused to release a moderate sized cash account to me saying they would only release it to a solicitor!
A phone call to the probate office from the bank manager was slightly one sided and reminded him that a grant of "Letters of Administration" was an order in the High Court and the manager would ignore it at his peril. I left with a cheque.
There is an app for Ipads which give some details of how to proceed

G-CPTN
9th Mar 2015, 19:56
WRT distribution of possessions - my father died intestate (my mother was already dead).
My older sister decided (!) that, as the eldest she would have first choice of everything after she had removed everything that she claimed she had given to my father for his birthdays and Christmases throughout his life (together with the things that she claimed she had given to my mother - despite the fact that, being the only girl, she had inherited all my mother's jewelry).

During the dividing of the 'remainder' she decided that she wanted the three-piece suite that was 'my turn' to pick. I suggested an auction between us - which she outbid me (of course) then subsequently refused to pay me.

Such behaviour was not unexpected - I had seen a similar thing happen when my wife's maiden aunt died. The will that she had written bequeathing certain items to specific nieces and grand nephew (my son) was 'rubbished' by her sister's (her next of kin) solicitor as void so all possessions were claimed by said sister for herself and her children.

That the things promised to my son were 'bespoke' (his name being the sole continuation of the 'family' name) such as a gold bracelet bearing the family name - descended from an Archbishop) was conveniently overlooked.
It wasn't the value of the bracelet - it was the heritage that mattered.

VP959
9th Mar 2015, 20:34
Good moral tale here:

WRT distribution of possessions - my father died intestate (my mother was already dead).
My older sister decided (!) that, as the eldest she would have first choice of everything after she had removed everything that she claimed she had given to my father for his birthdays and Christmases throughout his life (together with the things that she claimed she had given to my mother - despite the fact that, being the only girl, she had inherited all my mother's jewelry).

During the dividing of the 'remainder' she decided that she wanted the three-piece suite that was 'my turn' to pick. I suggested an auction between us - which she outbid me (of course) then subsequently refused to pay me.

Such behaviour was not unexpected - I had seen a similar thing happen when my wife's maiden aunt died. The will that she had written bequeathing certain items to specific nieces and grand nephew (my son) was 'rubbished' by her sister's (her next of kin) solicitor as void so all possessions were claimed by said sister for herself and her children.

That the things promised to my son were 'bespoke' (his name being the sole continuation of the 'family' name) such as a gold bracelet bearing the family name - descended from an Archbishop) was conveniently overlooked.
It wasn't the value of the bracelet - it was the heritage that mattered.

MAKE A WILL!

It's been something on my mind for a while now and I have about three drafts worked up so far. Not an easy a job as one might think. Much as I love my family I know that my sister will try and grab all she can (she's just that sort of person, but I love her dearly), my brothers will probably be disinterested (if they are still around) and much of the stuff I hold dear to me would be of no interest to anyone in the family, but might well be appreciated by a aviation-oriented museum.

The sticking point with my will at the moment is the way to dispose of my remains. I quite fancy a stone age style burial mound on the Plain, with a few clues s to what sort of person I was on an engraved stainless plate for any future archeoligists, but part of me rather fancies being fired into space (or at least high earth orbit).

Mach2Plus
9th Mar 2015, 20:46
Gentlemen, We have an old saying here in the States. "The man who acts as his own attorney has a fool for a client"

magpienja
9th Mar 2015, 21:27
Thank you everybody for taking the time to share your advice.

My wife has had a good read of all your posts and feel much more confident about the process now.

I will report back when all is under-way and let you know how we go on.

Thank you again all.

Nick.

cockney steve
9th Mar 2015, 21:28
Correction to my post above....we were appointed ADMINISTRATORS by the probate Registry, Executors execute a valid will, Administrators administer an intestate's estate.

@ WRECKER Well played, with the bank, having been told that the bank would release funds to pay for the funeral, or the total, if less, the jobsworth refused to accept the authority of the Coroner, or the receipt from the undertaker....she offered that I fill out a long-winded and inappropriate form and have my signature witnessed by a Commissioner of Oaths.
a brief , pointed exchange took place and I stormed out.

WRT nic-nacs....fortunately, the children are flexible, but where there is doubt or dissent, then the items will be auctioned and the "value" deducted from the winner's legacy......I had the deceased's former partner's siblings (the kids' uncle and aunt? ) and his daughters by his former marriage (half-sisters to their mother, step-aunts to them?) trying to claim various bits

"It's not worth anything, but we gave it as a present and would like a keepsake"....Google showed the limited -edition Lithograph changing hands at~1400 US dollars....not my definition of "Not worth anything"
Words were exchanged, Court-power as Administrator was invoked and they got nowt and boycotted the funeral!

the thieving, grasping Rellies are by far the biggest problem, I got angry at them trying to swindle young kids made it easy to be blunt with them and not spare their blushes

"She said I could have them when we attended her daughter's funeral"
NO....she would have given them there and then! she didn't and did not mention it to me, which she would have done.!.....
Maybe I shouldn't have spoken of a "flock of vultures descending before she's buried"

I have a good relationship with the kids, their dad and his partner and the Paternal Grandparents.....the rest, I've seen neither hide nor hair of, seen the eldest child twice, she avoided me....her legacy will pay part of her mother's funeral costs.

Another reason why it's important to keep accurate account of goods and cash. (not that she could afford, or would have the brass neck to challenge anything in a Court.) She didn't attend the funeral or inquest either!

Mikehotel152
9th Mar 2015, 23:07
A simple probate below the inheritance tax threshold is well-within the grasp of a person of intelligence who is willing to jump through all the hoops, however a competent solicitor will get it done more quickly because they know all the short-cuts, have all the contacts, the forms and the direct lines. That's what you're paying for.

My wife personally did the probate for a wealthy close-friend who had a complicated estate, got the grant of probate in very good time, settled the tax, and paid out to the beneficiaries far quicker than a lay-person could manage it. She saved the estate many thousands of s. However, she is a partner in a law firm and has specialised in private client work for 10 years. I think that's probably why she was made an Executor! ;)

Her advice would be that many people are quite capable of doing the probate on a non-taxable estate, but in any case where a small mistake is made and a solicitor is required to unravel the mistakes made by a layperson, it can cost the estate a lot of money. Remember, if the solicitor makes a mistake, they have indemnity insurance - you don't have...

ps: the key is to get a competent solicitor to draft your Will. A DIY Will bought from a stationery shop cannot, and will not, deal with anything other than very basic scenario.