Do I really need to pay solicitors to handle my father's will?

Sportacus
Sportacus Posts: 228
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edited 6 November 2023 at 12:45PM in Deaths, funerals & probate
My father passed away 6 weeks ago, I've just got a letter from the solicitors that did my father's will, which I have a copy of anyway, saying that they have a copy of the will in safe storage, and that I should use them to handle everything.

Do I really need to use solicitors for this though? What value will they add if they are just going to be asking me to provide the same paperwork that HMRC is asking for?

In the will, my father leaves everything to my mother, the house goes to her automatically, and nearly all bank and savings accounts were joint. There's just three banks where my dad had individual accounts, and I understand I need to get something called probate to move the money there to my mother's accounts.

Executors on the will are listed as myself, my mother, and my sister.
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  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 29,969
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    If the executor is happy to handle the estate administration then there's no need to engage solicitors for this, even if they hold the will.
  • Just added a note that I'm listed as one of the executors, my mother and sister are listed too, but neither of them are in condition to deal with this. Can I act solely as executor I wonder (not clear in the will)?
  • jlfrs01
    jlfrs01 Posts: 279
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    eskbanker said:
    If the executor is happy to handle the estate administration then there's no need to engage solicitors for this, even if they hold the will.
    100%, particularly if your mother is alive - there is zero value a Solicitor can add in this circumstance, their value is far greater when both parents have passed. I don't think Probate need to be applied for to close your father's accounts, a call to the banks he was with should allow them to close them and send any funds to your mother. A copy of the death certificate and a bit of form-filling will be needed but this is all pretty straightforward. I went through this process myself.
  • Sportacus said:
    Just added a note that I'm listed as one of the executors, my mother and sister are listed too, but neither of them are in condition to deal with this. Can I act solely as executor I wonder (not clear in the will)?
    I did my mother's about 6 years ago, my brother wasn't in a state to do it either so there was a  standard letter i got him to sign to this effect and kept it with the rest of the estate documentation.  It was a reservation of rights I think, I did it according to Northern Ireland probate rules and also got the solicitor to complete one as they were also an executor.  My brother completely trusted me and I was completely transparent somit was not an issue.

    In general I found handling probate fairly straightforward and the most difficult part was travelling to NI for a mandatory interview as I reside in Scotland.  There was a lot more information available for handling probate on the mainland if I recall.
  • I would also add that when I visited solicitor initially to get the will, they immediately started asking questions that they assumed they would be doing probate until i was clear I would be doing it myself.  I know they do add value where required but I think it is a massive money-spinner for them where things are relatively simple and they are just really charging for a lot of simple admin.  As I used them still for some property transfer and sale involvement then they would still have been available if I'd needed to ask them to handle anything else I would guess 
  • A will can't force anyone to be an executor. It's a request which the person is free to decline. Your relatives can decline, or they can opt to be executor 'with powers reserved'. That means that you do all the work, but they reserve the right to step in if they wish.
    Incidentally, there is a forum here: https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/categories/deaths-funerals-probate
    where you will find examples of people doing what you are planning.
    There is no need to pay a solicitor in your simple case. If you do run into any problems you can always consult a solicitor on that specific issue.
  • handful
    handful Posts: 531
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    If it's straightforward (and it looks like it is) then doing it yourself is definitely doable as others have said. If there are any complications then it can become all consuming and best handled professionally but I probably wouldn't go to a solicitor. It's definitely worth shopping around, I was recently an executor and was astonished at the different quotes I received.
  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,364
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    Sorry for your loss.  

    For your dad's bank accounts - all that will be needed is the death certificate, the will and details of mom's bank account.  The DC and will normally need to be real ones, not copies but if you have bank branches near you they should be able to copy and certify them for their own use.   
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • SiliconChip
    SiliconChip Posts: 1,294
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    Despite what others have said they cannot know for sure that probate will not be required in order to access funds in solely held bank accounts, only the banks in question can tell you if it is or it isn't. You should always contact their bereavement team as they are better placed than normal call centre staff to handle such queries and offer the correct advice.
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