Estate money

Estate decimated by legal fees

Did you read the report in The Times regarding a couple who were faced with an exorbitant legal bill of £115,000 which was ‘removed’ from a modest £300,000 estate. The deceased, the father of Paul Cutler, 47, had appointed a solicitor as the executor of his estate in his Will. Mr Cutler was alarmed to discover that the costs for administering his late father’s estate were spiralling out of control. When Mr Cutler complained, he was informed that only the ‘client’ of the solicitors i.e. the executor, in this case, the solicitor themselves, could complain, despite the obvious conflict of interest.

Acting as an executor of a Will has been referred to as ‘the role you didn’t want’ and can be a huge responsibility at an especially emotional time. Naturally, we want our loved ones to have as little to do as possible and we want our affairs dealt with efficiently. Appointing a professional can help to remove this burden from those left behind. Where there are complex family dynamics or perhaps a lack of family ties altogether, it is an especially sensible decision.

Problems can arise when a) a secure fixed fee is not obtained in advance of work starting and b) when the client is unable to complain effectively at the service being provided. Many people assume that probate and Estate Administration work should be carried out by a Solicitor who will charge by the hour. There are other options. Our advice, usually, is to appoint family as executors and ask the family to contact us, Casey & Associates, at the time of need. Our Consultant (usually the same person that has been advising the deceased for many years prior to their passing) will meet with the family executors and give “free of charge” initial advice. If the estate is uncomplicated then often the family executors can carry out the Grant of Probate and Estate Administration work themselves. We work with three affiliates who are regulated to process Grant of Probate and Estate Administration work. Our Consultant can give the family executors a fixed fee quotation to carry out the necessary work and then the family executors can instruct the work to be done by a regulated professional if they wish.

The regulated professional affiliates we work with have administered tens of thousands of estates on a fixed-fee basis.

If you would like to meet with one of our Consultants to discuss any of the issues raised in this article or any other Estate Planning topic please telephone 01732 868190 or click here.

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