Updated July 2019
According to research from the Legal Services Board, the number of people attempting to manage legal issues on their own is on the increase. Sarah Cornish, Partner in the Wills, Probate & Trusts team at Coodes Solicitors explains why it is crucial for the Executor of a Will to get professional help at what can be a difficult and emotional time.
An Executor is appointed to deal with someone’s affairs after their death, including the distribution of the estate. Most people choose a close family member or friend to carry out this important task. It is a huge responsibility and can be complex, particularly if family relationships are difficult or if the deceased person had a large estate.
Many of the Executors we support at Coodes are dealing with a high value estate and a number are from landowning families. It is the Executor’s role to claim for any reliefs, including the Transferable Nil Rate Band, Agricultural Property Relief and Business Property Relief.
These reliefs are extremely important, particularly as HM Revenue & Customs’ receipts of Inheritance Tax increased to a record high of £5.2 billion in the 2017–2018 tax year, an 8 per cent increase on the previous year.
For farming families, the importance of correctly framing the application for such reliefs cannot be underestimated as they could be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Executors have a number of legal responsibilities they need to fulfil to carry out the wishes of the deceased person and have a legal obligation to act impartially and in the interests of the beneficiaries. People unfortunately are sometimes caught out for failing to do this, even when they were acting in what they thought was the correct manner. It is very easy to make a mistake and many people are unaware of the personal liability they face if they unintentionally fail to carry out their duties in the right way. We can support you in ensuring you meet all these requirements.
Because we understand that every situation is different, we offer different levels of service. For a straightforward non-taxable estate, we can simply prepare the shorter Inheritance Tax Return on the basis of the information supplied by the Executors and apply for the Grant of Probate to hand to the Executors to deal with the collection of assets and distribution of the Estate. For more complex or high value estates or where the deceased did not leave a Will we can give a more bespoke service, with as much support as the Executor or Administrator needs.
Many people choose not to appoint a solicitor to support them as they carry out their role as an Executor or Administrator because they want to avoid legal costs. However, not only would the Executor or Administrator need to cover the cost of any mistakes, they also run the risk of missing out on the value of reliefs. The cost of getting it wrong is just too high.