Rosemary Drew
Chartered Legal Executive
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Date Published:06 Dec 2021 Last Updated:18 Jan 2022

Warning…Don’t DIY your Will, LPA or estate administration

Wills, Trusts & Probate

People often feel that they can save themselves and their loved ones the cost of having their Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) and estates dealt with professionally and instead choose to do these themselves. This is often a false economy and sometimes catastrophic in terms of overall expense.

It is always best to consult an expert that specialises in these areas, to get advice tailored to your needs before any legal documents are drafted or estate administration is undertaken.

Some of the issues caused by DIY legal work in this area are:

Wills:

  1. If your Will is one from the internet or store bought, you may not have received any advice on the tax or practical implications of the Will you have made and an expert lawyer will not have discussed your wishes with you and pointed out options relevant to you. For example, if you have a complicated family dynamic (e.g step children benefitting in your Will) there is specific advice we would give you on how best to structure your Will.
  2. Even a small error in your Will could lead to a completely different interpretation to the one you intended and could result in disappointed beneficiaries and disputes.
  3. There is a very strict Will signing protocol which, if not followed, may make your Will totally or partially invalid.
  4. The cost of fixing a mistake in a Will after a person passes away can result in very expensive court proceedings. For example, if a beneficiary is left out of your Will they may have to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for a share of your estate which is time consuming, costly, stressful and there are no guarantees of what the outcome of the proceedings will be.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs):

  1. Again, there is a very strict signing order for LPAs that, if not adhered to properly, could result in your LPA being rejected by the Office of the Public Guardian.
  2. If there are errors in the information included in your LPAs and this is not picked up before they are registered, it could make your LPAs invalid and result in a further application and fee. LPAs can take up to 4 months to be registered, so having to re-apply would cause substantial delay.

Probate/Administration of Estates:

Probate can be a very lengthy process with a number of complex and easy to miss steps, therefore, we would always advise discussing the estate with an expert before embarking on the administration.

Often a lawyer will be able to give you an overview of how the estate in question will need to be administered and they will be able to help with as many of those steps as you need them to.

If you do not take legal advice there are a number of things that you could miss. Some of these include:

  1. Dealing with the tax reporting for the estate before the prescribed deadlines. If this is not done HMRC are likely to impose penalties and interest on late tax payments.
  2. Applying for a Grant of Probate: the application form and IHT returns can easily be misinterpreted or completed incorrectly. This could result in Executors being liable for extra tax and lead to considerable delay in getting the Grant of Probate.
  3. Dealing with beneficiaries: beneficiaries are entitled by law to certain information about the estate. Interest also becomes payable on gifts in the Will that are not paid within a year of death. If family relationships are strained, Executors often instruct us to liaise with beneficiaries and make distributions to them.
  4. There are ways to deal with assets during the administration of an estate so as to avoid large tax bills. Capital Gains Tax is one of the things we will be able to advise you on and possibly help you avoid paying all together.

If you would like assistance from one of our highly qualified lawyers with administering an estate or setting up Wills and LPAs, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.