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    • Former MSE Sam M
    • By Former MSE Sam M 23rd Mar 17, 3:40 PM
    • 238Posts
    • 159Thanks
    Former MSE Sam M
    The Great Hunt: Help others if you've been an executor of a will
    • #1
    • 23rd Mar 17, 3:40 PM
    The Great Hunt: Help others if you've been an executor of a will 23rd Mar 17 at 3:40 PM
    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.

    This Forum tip was included in's weekly email!
    Last edited by Former MSE Sam M; 28-03-2017 at 9:58 AM.
Page 2
    • Devonian Rodders
    • By Devonian Rodders 29th Mar 17, 8:19 AM
    • 76 Posts
    • 65 Thanks
    Devonian Rodders
    Being an Executor
    Some years ago I was appointed Executor to my F I L's will, and when that time came, is was disasterous.
    Initially, I registered the death and did all the incidentals, including notifying Insurance etc etc.
    From then on, a solicitor had to be involved as the Will was a D I Y thing, and it was unclear as to what was to happen to the property. Eventually, it was passed to my M I L, who has since passed on, and searches at Probate Office have not revealed who acquired the house. The twist being, there were 2 children but it seems only ONE has benefited from the estate of my M I L, although there is no written evidence as to how (IF?) it should be shared.

    Advice to anyone preparing to write a will, get it written up by a professionally registered solicitor, read it line by line before signing. However, it seems from recent press coverage, wills are now frequently being challenged in the courts.
    • Keep pedalling
    • By Keep pedalling 29th Mar 17, 8:44 AM
    • 6,904 Posts
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    Keep pedalling
    It makes it much easier if there is just one executor. If more than one, all of you have to co-ordinate times for meetings eg probate application plus no messing around when signatures are necessary.
    Originally posted by lakesider52
    No that would be a big mistake, if the one executor predecease you or is unable to act for any reason that will leave you with no executor.

    We have 3 each other, and our 2 children. Providing one of those is willing to take on the main role the others can hold their power in resivation so multiple signatures and coordinated meeting should not be required. Alternatively you can appoint back up executors if your first choice cannot act for any reason.

    Might not be such a good idea to appoint children as joint executors if they are always at war with each other though. That is the one situation where using solicitors may be the better idea.
    • heppy23
    • By heppy23 29th Mar 17, 8:51 AM
    • 477 Posts
    • 246 Thanks
    One simple tip is to get extra copies of the death certificate at the time of registering the death as it's cheaper than going back later.
    Most organisations insist on seeing the original and it can really drag along if you only have one copy and it's always in the post to and fro. Plus you are covered if one goes missing.
    • LKM1
    • By LKM1 29th Mar 17, 8:52 AM
    • 2 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    I advocate using 1 Executor from within the family PLUS 1 or 2 from outside. This is because the 'in family Executor' will be traumatised by the bereavement and so less able to act/cope as sole Executor and to ensure independence. Furthermore, the Executors can 'nominate' one of their body to act as their representative, whilst still retaining the right to intervene if they suspect/believe there is an issue with that 'representative'. The books do NOT explain the more subtle points of probate and it usually only experience that will seek out and use those finer points of probate ... thus saving tax, time and expensive mistakes on the Estate and assets.
    • Ronnietheroamer
    • By Ronnietheroamer 29th Mar 17, 9:07 AM
    • 2 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    Probate help
    The very first thing to do is get organised. Buy a cheap notebook and use to record all the things you will need. Just remember, if thing are done methodically, there is no need for solicitors, who charge the earth.
    List all the deceased assets,
    Property, jewellery, possessions, investments, bank accounts, credit/debit cards, Insurance companies, utilities etc, ask tax office for details for tax return.
    Write to everyone, informing them of the death, and that you are acting for the deceased. Most will require copies of the death certificate, but not all, ie utilities, council tax, tax office etc. If property in sole name, ask local estate agents for value, ( get three to give free valuation...they will be pleased to help as could get sale business)
    Ask everyone for the up to date balance "at the time of death" including any interest due or owed.
    Obtain probate forms, either by phone or by downloading off the Internet. Complete form with all details, if in doubt phone probate team who are really helpful or check on line help.
    Send off copies of probate to companies and ask for funds to be sent, care of the exors of the deceased. Most banks will open an exors account without charge, which has you will only need for few weeks.

    Using the above formula, I have done 3 probate with no problems, the last one took 6 weeks from date of death to distributing the estate to the heirs. Admittedly, no property needed selling, which takes time.
    • Keep pedalling
    • By Keep pedalling 29th Mar 17, 9:24 AM
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    • 8,099 Thanks
    Keep pedalling
    Valuing properties should not be left to EAs if the estate is anywhere near falling into IHT territory. Use a RICS surveyer.
    • bshah999
    • By bshah999 29th Mar 17, 9:27 AM
    • 9 Posts
    • 13 Thanks
    I have been executor for a will. The process is possible to manage without a solicitor, but much easier if you have full details of the deceased persons assets/financial affairs.

    I let my nearest and dearest know about my financial affairs so that execution will be easier for them.
    • rosie2121
    • By rosie2121 29th Mar 17, 9:39 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Wills and Probate
    I've been the executor for both my parents over the last couple of years and hope I may be able to add some helpful comments and things I wish I'd known.

    Make sure your next of kin know where your Will is and what kind of funeral you would like - they will have enough to do without arguing over your favourite hymn!

    Funds in your bank or building society account can be used to pay for funeral expenses and IHT if required, thus saving your family having to find the money themselves.

    Get plenty of copies of the Death Certificate when registering the death, as it seems like everyone you deal with needs an original copy and they are relatively inexpensive to buy at this time. The Registrar offers a Tell Us Once programme to notify all government agencies of the death.

    The Bereavement Advice Centre will notify up to 10 commercial organisations for you.

    If several Executors are nominating one to deal with Probate (several siblings for example) they should sign the Reserved Powers document in case the nominee is unable to continue at any time.
    • warwickshirelad
    • By warwickshirelad 29th Mar 17, 9:42 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Do some research
    I've done 2 probates over the last few years. The second was much easier thanks to all the experience I'd gained from the first.

    I found all of the online information invaluable.

    Just a couple of things which I hadn't anticipated.

    First of all, use "mylostaccount" to find out if there are any bank accounts etc which are in the name of the deceased, as they may have been dormant for many years.

    Secondly, if there's a house involved, and you're going to sell it at some time in the future, provided you aren't likely to trigger inheritance tax limits, don't undervalue the house, as you may be subject to capital gains tax when you eventually sell it. If you're spending money on improving it before sale, make sure you keep receipts for everything you spend on it, and go through the capital gains tax rules with a fine tooth comb.

    Good luck
    • hazelgee
    • By hazelgee 29th Mar 17, 9:58 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Executor a Solicitor?
    I have sorted out Probate when both my parents died. I then started to help a friend whose husband had died. It turned out that he had made his Solicitor an executor. We found, through the Probate Help pages, that you can ask the Solicitor to write a letter renouncing their rights as executor, enabling you to proceed with Probate yourself. The particular Solicitor told us that we had to have a Deed of Renunciation, which just sounded more expensive to me.
    My advice would be to make a relative the Executor in any Will. If they are unable to sort Probate themselves, they can always go to a Solicitor. If you make a Solicitor the Executor, you have to get this renounced.
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 29th Mar 17, 10:15 AM
    • 2,935 Posts
    • 3,921 Thanks
    My advice would be to make a relative the Executor in any Will. If they are unable to sort Probate themselves, they can always go to a Solicitor.
    Originally posted by hazelgee
    If the solicitor is appointed as an executor in the will, they are only answerable to the estate and can drag things out as long as they like with little risk of being challenged.

    If the solicitor is appointed by an executor, then the executor can keep a tight leash on the solicitor and costs.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • Browntoa
    • By Browntoa 29th Mar 17, 10:39 AM
    • 35,529 Posts
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    LPA ceases at date of death. If you have been taking control of finances then it makes it easier to know which institutions to contact after a death.
    Originally posted by Pensionerkbm

    forgot that , thank you
    I'm the Board Guide of the Referrers ,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 Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    • Rosie1980
    • By Rosie1980 29th Mar 17, 10:58 AM
    • 136 Posts
    • 54 Thanks
    You don't need a solicitor
    I have been executor twice, neither time have I used a solicitor, except to swear the oath and sell a house (it was an unregistered title so there was no way I was going to do that DIY).

    I found doing probate helped me deal with the death as it gave me something positive to do.

    This book was really useful. Some of the figures are a bit out of date but it gives you an overall picture and some useful template letters. The website is really helpful too.

    I created a spreadsheet so I could easily keep track of who I'd contacted and what stage I was at.

    Since doing probate I have also put my own affairs in order even more than they were. So now I have a spreadsheet of my own itemising the accounts I hold and a rough amount of how much is in them - I've pretty much done probate for my executor

    Definitely have more than one executor in the Will and not a solicitor. I would however recommend that if you and the other exector(s) trust one another, whoever it going to take on the letter writing etc is the only one who goes ahead to get Grant of Probate, the other can still be involved it just means only one signature every time you write a letter rather than having to send everything round to everyone to be signed before it can be sent.

    It's not hard, it takes time but then those I know that have used a solicitor still had to do a lot of the leg work and the solicitor got paid to do the easy stuff! It's also a lot quicker to do yourself.
    • Linton
    • By Linton 29th Mar 17, 11:28 AM
    • 11,176 Posts
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    Do NOT use a solicitor when applying for probate!!! Too many people believe that a solicitor is necessary when applying for a grant of probate, but it easy to do it yourself. A solicitor will take around 1000 for simply filling in a form and posting it to the local Probate office, whereas you can do it for 115. Another rip off by solicitors!
    Originally posted by colinslyne
    If you have a small/simple estate yes. If not use a solicitor - in our case with large amounts in gifts and an estate well above the IHT threshold his detailed knowledge of how the IHT rules operate saved 1000s. But solicitors fees in such circumstances can be a lot more than 1000. 1%-2% of the estate is usual.

    On the negative side, more than 1 year after the death we are still waiting for a final distribution - solicitors can be extremely slow.
    • MorayMintz
    • By MorayMintz 29th Mar 17, 11:33 AM
    • 13 Posts
    • 68 Thanks
    advice for Scotland
    I'd echo the earlier plea for recognition of the different situation under Scot's Law where we need to seek "confirmation" rather than probate. The Scottish Government publishes an excellent guide "What to do after a death in Scotland ... practical advice for times of bereavement" which I found invaluable when dealing with my husband's death. Also a notebook and spreadsheet to keep everything organised.
    I managed our money and, like others have said, knowing exactly what accounts he had, with which institutions and what the account numbers were etc, meant I was able to hand of all the necessary info to the solicitor so that minimised their work and reduced their fees.
    One surprise was that our solicitor had never heard of the inherited ISA allowance [ISA assets can now be passed on to spouses or civil partners and retain their tax-friendly status] so I handled that aspect myself.
    My husband and I had already discussed our wishes in broad terms so that also made it easier to put together the funeral arrangements and allowed the family to draw comfort from knowing we were carrying out his wishes. We chose not to have a pre-paid funeral plan but we had already purchased our cemetery plot and had the headstone erected [bought in a Sale too!] so there's a lot you can do to reduce the work and make it easier for whoever is tidying up after your death.
    • King Drax I
    • By King Drax I 29th Mar 17, 11:46 AM
    • 74 Posts
    • 48 Thanks
    King Drax I
    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 .
    Originally posted by mhansen
    It is indeed a sensitive issue, and if your partner (or whoever you are going to be executor for) is still alive and also sufficiently compos mentis, it might be an idea to get a Lasting Power of Attorney too. There are two: one to manage financial decisions, and one for health and welfare decisions. I have both for both my parents, who are both a bit doolally, and it gives great peace of mind.
    • LancsAmbassador
    • By LancsAmbassador 29th Mar 17, 11:56 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Solicitor change? Risky....
    I and another family member were the executors of a parent's will. At the time, I was living outside the UK and could only visit monthly, so for the convenience of my fellow executor, I agreed to let them change the solicitor from the one designated in the will to their own ("Nearby, knows me").
    Unlike the designated solicitor, the replacement knew nothing of the deceased and their (extensive) financial affairs. This resulted in me having to write a long seies of replies to incorrect asset valuations pointing out errors and omissions until one (still incomplete after 2 yrs) could be agreed.
    If the deceased has had long-term dealings with the solicitor nominated in the will, stick with them!
    • sheilaok
    • By sheilaok 29th Mar 17, 12:46 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Have applied and completed 3 now. Found it fairly easy. As has been said get multiple death certificates at first opportunity as dearer if left.
    Also I think it's a good idea to get LPA for health and welfare as well as finance. ( 2 separate forms) these can be completed on line.
    • sheilaok
    • By sheilaok 29th Mar 17, 12:48 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    It is indeed a sensitive issue, and if your partner (or whoever you are going to be executor for) is still alive and also sufficiently compos mentis, it might be an idea to get a Lasting Power of Attorney too. There are two: one to manage financial decisions, and one for health and welfare decisions. I have both for both my parents, who are both a bit doolally, and it gives great peace of mind.
    Originally posted by King Drax I
    And it's a good idea to get one for yourself as well. I have and my spouse.
    • Aquaman
    • By Aquaman 29th Mar 17, 12:51 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    You don't always need probate
    I had a relatively simple will to deal with, but the sums involved far exceeded the probate thresholds. Nevertheless, I received sound advice from a solicitor to check with each financial institution involved to see whether they required a grant of probate to transfer assets. In each case, even with one sum exceeding 200k, it was possible to make the necessary transfers from bank accounts using a death certificate and a copy of the will. Much form filling saved at a difficult time.
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