Interestingly, less than half (47%) of the UK population have written a will, although the evidence suggests that percentage has increased since coronavirus pandemic.
What’s more, there appears to be a growing level of awareness among younger Brits, with more than one-fifth of the 16-24 age demographic agreeing that their outlook on the importance of wills had changed markedly since the pandemic.
The presence of a will certainly makes the distribution of a deceased’s estate easier, as this process can occasionally be complex and difficult to manage. In some cases, you may even need to hire a probate specialist, but when is the right time to use this type of professional?
What is a Probate Specialist?
In simple terms, a probate specialist is a qualified individual who deals with the management and distribution of a deceased person’s estate.
Interestingly, a probate specialist can be either a solicitor or an accountant depending on the nature of the estate and its individual assets.
Probate itself refers to the detailed and often complex process of administering a deceased’s estate, which can include a myriad of asset classes such as property, investment portfolios and cash holdings.
At the beginning of the process, people responsible for managing the will have to organise the deceased’s finances, while it will end with the distribution of individual assets in the form of inheritance.
When Should You Use a Probate Specialist?
When you write a will, you should also appoint so-called “executors”, who are tasked with administering the deceased person’s estate in the aftermath of their passing.
In many cases, executors are able to liaise with solicitors to fulfil such duties with the minimum of fuss. However, there may be instances where they need to call on a probate specialist, such as if the total value of the estate exceeds the inheritance tax threshold of £325,000.
In this case, the estate will be charged tax at a rate of 40%, creating significant complexity that needs professional expertise to be dealt with efficiently. Similarly, a probate specialist may be needed if the estate in question has complex or unusual arrangements, or disputes emerge about the validity of the will or its distribution.
On a fundamental level, probate specialists will be called upon in instances where no will exists at all.
What are the Costs Involved?
Aside from a potential tax levy of 40% on all estates over the value of £325,000, there are additional costs that you’ll have to incur when hiring a probate specialist.
What’s more, there’s no fixed rule regarding how this type of professional will bill for their services. For example, they could charge an hourly rate, creating a relatively changeable fee will fluctuate depending on the volume of work involved.
Conversely, other will charge a fee that equates to a percentage of the estate’s total value. This will be a fixed fee of between 1% and 5% that’s easily calculable, although it can amount to a relatively large payout when dealing with high value estates.
You’ll also need to factor in VAT to such fees, as services are usually billed exclusive of this tax levy.