Money, Death and Probate Series-with Paul Radcliffe
Welcome to the latest series of informative articles here at Plan with Neil.
In this edition, we talk to experts in different fields including Will Writing, Divorce and the event of Death, allowing you to dig deeper in to your own personal objectives regarding your finances. This will allow you to plan well for the future and guide you through these important financial decisions, along with a good amount of resources – so you can start financial planning today.
In the latest series, we had an informative and interesting discussion with Paul Radcliffe. Trained intensely in Law and qualified as a Financial Advisor, Paul has specialised in Probate Law for eleven years. He has since gone on to oversee and support over four thousand families in the event of a bereavement. Therefore, he has significant expertise, insight and knowledge on the legal, financial and emotional processes that individuals and families experience at this time of their lives.
Here at Plan with Neil, we begin with asking Paul; what are the key issues to consider when it comes to your money in the event of a Death?
Paul begins with painting a wider perspective of the process when experiencing a bereavement.
“What is absolutely a matter of fact is that we’re all going to be dealing with death. Death affects every single person. However, when a family experiences a death, an individual potential goes on to Google, rather than already having that knowledge of what is expected when a loved one dies. They may ask neighbours, friends, even third or fourth parties. Often therefore, people muddle through the process, take unnecessary risks and potentially make mistakes. Even though we are all going to lose someone significant to us we tend to lack the complete understanding of the administration process.”
Within his experience, Paul has understood the lack of guidance in bereavement as a national curriculum issue, as well as a lack of education provided for people. A process, which people believe should be simple, becomes significantly more difficult by a complex legal and practical system. Paul explained that the feedback is similar for the vast majority of those suffering a bereavement. One of these complex issues includes Probate; an area Paul explains that the bereaved are also ill informed about. In its simplest form, Probate is the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions, i.e. their estate, when they die.
“Probate is Latin for proof. As a Probate Practitioner, I am there to administer the estate, exactly in line with the law. Probate was originally introduced (12th Jan 1858) as legal process that was linked to permissions, accuracy and a proving processes but also a taxation method for the rich and wealthy. The threshold to trigger probate was five thousand pounds, then deemed as a vast amount of assets. Legally, this amount still stands but unfortunately can affect most of the country. Therefore, even for a possible small valued estate you may have to prove for example, the validity of the will, the beneficiaries, the value of the estate and any debts obtained by the deceased.”
Paul further explains aspects of Probate, in particular regards to the role of the Executor of the will: the one legally responsible for accurate administration the assets of the deceased. This includes savings and debts. Many families may not know this information until a bereavement occurs. This can enhance emotions and overwhelm the individual who is already grieving by the event of bereavement.
“The easiest way to think of Probate is an entire process, a process of proving accuracy and authorization, of approximately 20 checkpoints depending on the size of the estate. For example, one checkpoint is validating the will, to make sure that is the last will and testament for the deceased, to prove that you can administer the estate under the legal document that you have, or proving who the legal next of kin are when the deceased has not left a valid Will (Known as letters of administration). Another example is as the protection of the asset, most families are unaware that insurances if in a sole name cease on the death of the individual so there is now risk attached to cars and homes.
Probate therefore, can be a long-winded, lengthy process dependent on an individual or family’s circumstance. There are many timescales that you have to adhere to for instance by the courts, that an individual or family may not be aware about. Therefore, to financially plan can be tricky. Probate may need to be granted before a family can for example; sell the house of a deceased, or claim savings and assets.
“Unfortunately, it’s a case of please don’t shoot the messenger. I am not here to agree with the entire process of this of this legal system. However, whether it is because a family has not done a will or, or whether it’s because the way in which the Will was written, It can cause conflict and cause unhappiness and upset within families. That is something that we just have to deal with and explain the best we possibly can, regarding Probate and its challenges. It’s my job to support them in the process the best way I can.”
When asked how one could prepare for bereavement, whilst protecting their finances, Paul advises that preparation and knowledge is key in the process of the death of a loved one. For example, do you know whether a will is prepared? Are you legally the next of kin? Do you understand the legal obligations of an executor, as well as the length of the process of legal applications? Mentally preparing yourself, knowing your network support and seeking advice from professionals such as Paul in advance can also help gain clarity on Probate. In an already difficult process, this guidance could alleviate the burden and stress of the legal and financial aspects of the process, when losing a loved one. A phrase ‘you do not know what you do not know’ is used so often in probate law so please seek guidance before making an informed decision.
Your key takeaways regarding Money, Death and Probate are:
• The legal, financial and emotional processes when a bereavement occurs are complex. Expert advice from Paul suggests it is a wider national curriculum and educational problem, bounded by laws and traditions. The vast majority of bereaved people are unclear on the process, muddle and struggle through, often seeking advice online or from third parties amidst their grieving process and not necessarily seeking advice and guidance from professionals due to fears of costs etc.
• Probate is a law that is a part of a complex process. It involves the legal process of approving authorization and therefore the responsibility of administering the deceased’s estate and will. Individuals often at a time of bereavement are unaware of their status with Probate, how or where it is triggered. Probate can be a lengthy and long-winded journey, with checkpoints and delays dependent on your personal situation of the deceased’s estate.
• Ways in which you can avoid further stress include preparing for the process when a bereavement occurs. Seek and be clear on knowledge of personal aspects such as estate knowledge, Will location and content, assets, legal executors and legal aspects, including Probate. Overall, it is the understanding that the death of a loved one is practically an inevitable event and one has the power to be prepared, in order to make the complex and difficult process smoother for those who are going through a bereavement.
For further questions and guidance, contact Paul Radcliffe directly at Paul.Radcliffe@Laurelo.co.uk
Laurelo – Probate Specialists | Specialist Probate Advisers with Laurelo https://laurelo.co.uk/
Applying for probate: What is Probate? – GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate
Citizen Advice Bureau – Dealing with the Financial Affairs of someone who has Died –
At Plan with Neil, your financial wellbeing is the number one priority. The aim of the service is to deliver peace of mind by providing you, the client, with the options and flexibility needed for you to be financially secure and achieve your longer-term goals and financial ambitions.