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DIY Probate Administration Sees Will Claims Triple

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The increase in people deciding to act as executor and deal with a person’s estate without taking professional advice has meant claims at the High Court against executors for breach of their duty to a deceased’s estate have tripled in the last year.

Figures published by the Chancery Division of the High Court show that in 2013 there were 368 claims of this type, up from 107 in the previous 12 months.

The idea that relatives can save on professional fees may be an attractive one, but executors have a duty to manage the estate correctly and are personally responsible in what is already a difficult and stressful time. It is very rare for there to be an extremely straightforward estate.

Probate and matters relating to Inheritance Tax are becoming increasingly complex areas with many estates involving complex trust law. With this, the chances of making a costly mistake are high, as is shown by these figures. Disputes involving estates can diminish assets very quickly and often end up costing far more than professional advice at the outset. It is therefore important to think whether the risk involved in not seeking professional advice when you are unsure is really worth it.

The last thing beneficiaries want, is to go to court to recover what is rightfully theirs, but sometimes that is the only option.

What these figures show is that even a properly drafted Will does not guarantee against disputes in the future if the executors or people putting the Will into effect do not do so correctly.

In order to avoid being involved in one of these claims the advice should always be, if there is any doubt, always consult a professional. This will ensure you fulfil your personal duty to the estate and will also give you peace of mind that your loved ones’ property has been administered fully in accordance with their wishes and the rules that govern it.