Britons are at risk of losing thousands

Britons are at risk of losing thousands

BRITONS are at risk of losing thousands of pounds from their inheritances due to low awareness about the potential cost of professional probate according to Saga Legal Solutions.

Choosing a solicitor, bank or accountant is a popular choice in helping navigate the complexities of probate but one for which the public could be overpaying due to hidden or disproportionate costs, the over-50s legal services specialist is warning.

In addition to a percentage fee for acting as executor, professionals can also charge an hourly fee, meaning that the average UK inheritance of £180,000 could end up reduced by thousands of pounds.

SagaLegal.co.uk has released a Guide to Choosing Executors, which sets out the options available, ensuring people make the right decision for their circumstances.

The guide, free to download from Saga.co.uk/legal, provides advice to make an informed choice and avoid leaving next of kin out of pocket.

Paying a professional firm to act as executor can help simplify the probate process for loved ones. Some professional firms, however, charge a set percentage fee, based on the value of the estate rather than on its complexity to deal with. That means an individual with largely uncomplicated legal affairs could end up unnecessarily losing hundreds or thousands of pounds from the ultimate value of their estate.

Once a person has passed away, an appointed professional is under no obligation to renounce its role as executor. According to Saga Legal, people are increasingly seeking legal advice on the issue, only to discover it is too late and that the only recourse available is costly, stressful and time-consuming legal action.

Emma Myers, head of wills, probate and lifetime planning at Saga Legal, said: “Most people don’t think about probate until they need to and, as a consequence, knowledge of the facts remains quite low,especially where costs are involved ” If you think this might affect you and your loved ones, it’s a good idea to review your will and have it amended to avoid overpaying later. Whether you intend to use a professional or a friend or family member, it’s a good idea to discuss your decision with your next of kin to fully explain your reasoning.”

Emma Myers’ Top Tips in choosing a Professional Probate Provider:

  1. Always agree a fixed price up front to avoid any nasty surprises later.
  2. Shop around to find the right deal. Remember to strike the right balance between price and getting the quality of service you require.
  3. Remember there are usually two options for probate: full administration, where the professional will deal with everything on your behalf, and grant only, where the professional prepares the legal paperwork for you only.
  4. Ask as many questions as you need to in order to feel confident in what you are signing – if you have agreed a fee up front, you should not be charged extra to ask additional questions.
  5. If using a professional, choose one that is regulated by a relevant governing body and which offers insurance should something go wrong, such as an incorrectly-drafted will accidentally missing out a beneficiary.
  6. Whatever your decision, talk it through with your next of kin so they fully understand your reasoning, as this will help to avoid potential disputes later on.