Why consider probate fees when making your will
When you make a will, one of most important decisions you’ll make is who to appoint as executor. There are many factors that may affect your choice, the person’s age, where they live, and their relationship to you. You also have the option to appoint a professional who will take care of probate and relieve close family of the burden. It’s sometimes wise to use a solicitor if there are feuds in the family and there is a chance that disputes may occur.
If you don’t have any strong preferences, make sure you know exactly who the executor/s named in your will are. If you are considering allocating the task to a professional, you’ll need to be aware of the implications in doing so.
The will writing and probate industry is not regulated and even the most reputable high street banks are guilty of using unscrupulous practices in the pursuit of profit. A common ploy is for companies to offer cheap will writing as a loss leader, write themselves in as executor and charge extortionate probate fees. This can be as much as 4.5% of the estate value to wind up an estate.
Some firms say it’s compulsory, and pressurise or use hard-sales tactics to get testers to agree to write them in as executor. There have been many widely publicised cases of unwanted executors who refuse to renounce their positions when confronted by relatives about their rip-off fees. The law states that they are not required to do so and the family has no choice but to watch a large portion of the estate get swallowed up in legal fees.
If you are considering using a professional, protect your family by finding out exactly how much they charge for probate. The Law Society states that practitioners must give an indication of the costs of carrying out the administration of the estate. They must also inform clients how fees are calculated; whether that’s at an hourly rate, or by a percentage of the estate.
If the firm tries to use the ‘how long is a piece of string argument,’ press them for an answer. To protect yourself, use a company that offers a fixed fee service so you’ll have a clearer indication of costs.