Do I need a lawyer to manage the estate?
While you can hire a lawyer to manage someone's estate, you may be able to take these tasks on yourself.
Who should deal with things?
Learn about the pros and cons of taking on estate management yourself, and when it's best to seek legal help.
Pros of doing things yourself
Hiring a law firm to deal with the whole estate can be extremely expensive. This is because they typically try to do every task, which will suit some people, but adds on time and cost to your final bill. This can include waiting on hold to energy suppliers and long email chains trying to organise things like payments or meetings.
By dealing with 3rd parties like banks yourself, you can be proactive and move things along at a pace you are comfortable with, rather than waiting until your case gets to the top of a huge pile on a lawyer’s desk.
Take your mind off things
Depending on your relationship with the person who died, you might like having something to keep you busy during this difficult time.
Cons of doing things yourself
Some estates are more time consuming than others, but dealing with an estate could require a lot of work. It’s worth noting that any law firm would be happy to take over your case at any time should it become too much to deal with.
Responsible for mistakes
If you were to report the incorrect value of the estate to HMRC or pay out money to the wrong people, you could be held personally liable and even subject to prosecution in extreme circumstances.
New things to learn
Although this could be viewed as a positive, if you don’t have a legal or financial background there will almost certainly be quite a few new things to learn to allow you to successfully administer the estate.
Do you need legal help?
Most estates can be quite straightforward to deal with but there are some situations when things can get tricky and might indicate seeking legal advice is a good idea.
It is usually recommended to seek legal advice if:
- someone is challenging the validity of the will
- there are unusual or complicated tax arrangements
- the estate is very large, complex or has assets held in trusts
- spouses and/or children were left out of the will deliberately
- you think the estate might be bankrupt/insolvent
- there are foreign assets in the estate
- the deceased was not a resident in the UK for tax purposes