The Great Hunt: Help others if you've been an executor of a will

edited 28 March 2017 at 9:58AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
103 replies 26.1K views
Former_MSE_Sam_MFormer_MSE_Sam_M Former MSE
346 Posts
MSE Staff
edited 28 March 2017 at 9:58AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
We're after your experiences and tips to help inform a new guide we're writing.

Did you have to deal with probate?

What did you learn?

What do you wish you had known at the time?

Thanks in advance.



  • mhansenmhansen Forumite
    14 Posts
    Regarding wills,
    It's a sensitive issue but if your partner maybe suffering from dementia, it would be advisable
    To assist with making sure the will is correct and that there is note more than 1 will .
  • getmore4lessgetmore4less Forumite
    45.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper I've helped Parliament
    get whoever is writing the guide to do some research by practicing administration of at least one full estate(PA and IHT400 forms)

    Also that they understand some of the basics like what "probate" really means as just a "probate" guide will be fairly useless for most people as that is not what they will be dealing with.

    Also make sure they have read at least one of the very good guides that have already been written and available from a library.
  • Just administered my deceased mother's small estate with no property. Found online guides good and easy to follow, though process takes time. Swearing oath at local solicitor cheap and handy rather than visiting registry. Biggest problem I found was differing attitudes of banks to need for probate in the first place. Despite published position, NS and I didn't insist on probate nor did insurers, Barclays or Halifax. But beware - my mother had more than £20k in a Sainsbury's Bank account (but still less than in other banks) and they were the only reason we had to go to Probate (apparently it is in their savings account terms and conditions that in event of death of account holder with savings above that amount, they will insist on Probate!). Cost of probate nearly wiped out interest my mother's money had made in that account. Sainsbury's Bank will also only ever communicate re probate requirements in writing, never by phone and do take their time.
    So even small, simple estates can be frustrating to administer depending on which bank the deceased held monies in.
  • chubsterchubster Forumite
    57 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    I found it surprising how different banks and other organisations dealt with the issue, some were fantastic others almost obstructive. My advice would be very organised, get multiple copies of the death certificate and keep records of every communication.
  • I was my dad's executor, along with my brother. We went to the solicitor who had written the will to sort out probate. We ended up staying with the same practice, but changing solicitor, as she made lots of errors in the paper work. I didn't realise that it would cost well over £1,000 to go through probate using a solicitor. It took around 6 months to sort out.
    I have a friend who , together with his family did it all themselves. It took a while, but they saved a lot of money sorting it out themselves.
  • ThemeOneThemeOne Forumite
    1.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    I administered my father's estate, and was the only beneficiary.

    I saved a lot of money by applying for probate myself - this was needed as property was involved. It was straightforward enough, though time consuming.

    The only thing I probably should have done differently is not transfer the house into my own name as soon as probate came through. My plan was to sell the house, and I thought I couldn't sell it if it wasn't in my name. I've since heard that it could have been left as property of the estate, and had I done that I might have also saved some council tax. In the event it didn't make that much difference.

    Apart from that the whole process was OK, a walk in the park compared with having to clear the house.
  • BellisimaBellisima Forumite
    146 Posts
    Sixth Anniversary 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    I was executor of my mum's will, along with my brother. One important thing is to try and ensure the person has a Lasting Power of Attorney as well as a will whilst they are still alive and have capacity. My mum hadn't and she developed Alzheimer's and went into a care home. She did not have capacity to make her own decisions and so we had to apply to the Court of Protection, a long winded and costly process with a solicitor. It cost us £1700 which we were eventually able to reimburse from her assets. An LPA only costs £110 and can be done online.

    Another thing we found out was the Inheritance Tax issue. My dad had died before mum and left all his assets to her, therefore not using his Inheritance Tax Allowance. This meant mum's allowance doubled from £325,000 to £650,000, therefore her assets were below this allowance and no tax was payable on her estate.

    You do not need to use a solicitor for Probate. We used an accountant friend was had trained in Probate and was therefore able to do it for us. It still wasn't cheap but it made the process a little smoother.
  • ThemeOneThemeOne Forumite
    1.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    Bellisima wrote: »
    Another thing we found out was the Inheritance Tax issue. My dad had died before mum and left all his assets to her, therefore not using his Inheritance Tax Allowance. This meant mum's allowance doubled from £325,000 to £650,000, therefore her assets were below this allowance and no tax was payable on her estate.

    Good point - the same also applied to me.
  • PensionerkbmPensionerkbm Forumite
    4 Posts
    Ninth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    MoneySaving Newbie
    I have dealt with probate for my mother (2012 using a solicitor up to grant of probate stage) and This year for my poor husband who passed away Nov 2016.
    This is what I learnt from using solicitor
    II supplied all the financial information (bank, investments, savings and house valuation) and he charged a large amount for filling grant forms in!
    I then released all assets myself and distributed them to my family in line with the will.


    1.I set up a template letter to financial institutions asking for balance of the account at date of death to itemise any interest for the current tax year.

    set up a spreadsheet (this doesn't need to be on a computer if you are not familiar with this) With following headings
    Asset. Sort code. Value at date of death. Interest accrued todate of death

    Tax deducted in current tax year.

    2. Next section use for Sale and disposal of assets

    Another spreadsheet
    Ref no. Date. Description. Purchaser. £receipts. Bank a/c credited. Date paid to client bank a/c (open separate account with your bank to enable you to deal with the estate)

    Keep all paperwork (I found it useful to annotate it with any date paperwork posted, replies received, any notes of people and datesyou spoke to on phone regarding estate.)

    3 Executors expenses
    Another spreadsheet
    Ref no. Date. Supplier. Description. £amount

    File everything with a ref

    4. Executor account
    File all paperwork as it comes in and is dealt with.

    5.section for house sale
    I kept this separate from sale and disposal of assets, but only for paperwork not the money side.

    6 separate section for house utilities to make sure they are dealt with (refunds or amounts owing)

    7 section for filing multiple copies of Coroners Interim certificate of death (this may not apply to most) Grant certificates, death certificates.
    Make sure you order enough as you send these off at all stages and you request that institutions return them. Copy of will etc

    8 statement of your distribution of estate according to the wishes in the will.

    These were all the records I collected and only gave the asset Spreadsheet to the solicitor.


    I followed exactly the same format (except house sale)
    I filled in probate forms myself, IHT form (no IHT to pay in this case)
    Any queries, just rang helpline and they explained any ambiguous sections)
    Sent paperwork off to local probate office.
    Elect to swear oath with local solicitor (£7)

    Once Grant received, then administered estate assets as above.

    I have filed an IHT217 (Claim to transfer unused nil band rate band for excepted estates) filled in with my powers of attorney and copy of my current will with my papers so my family can deal with my estate.
    This only applies if it is your spouse/civil partner's estate you have dealt with.

    Sorry post is long but all you need to be is organised.
    Being busy helps numb some of the grief.
    Feel I could produce a pack of letter templates/spreadsheets etc.

    Obviously the more complex the estate it maybe more info you need.

    Don't be pressured by bank or solicitor to administer estate as you will be supplying the information and they will do the easy bit of form filling.
  • BrowntoaBrowntoa Forumite, Board Guide
    48.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    try and get your parents/partner to do a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and financial affairs , its only £110 currently and the form are easy to fill out yourself without a solicitor

    is they are in the receipt of certain benefits then the fees may be halved or waived completely

    It makes the whole process of managing their finances after death so much easier and quicker

    Use this LPA to give an attorney the power to make decisions about money and property for you, for example:
    • managing a bank or building society account
    • paying bills
    • collecting benefits or a pension
    • selling your home
    Links in my signature currently broken
    I'm the Board Guide of the ,Telephones, Pensions , Shop Don't drop ,over 50's , Boost your income and Discount Code boards which means I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum runnning smoothly .However, please remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post please report it to [email protected] Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.[
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