Probate – what are the risks of doing it yourself?

March 7th 2024

When a loved one dies and you have been nominated as an executor in charge of sorting out their property, money and  possessions, you may need to go through a process that is known as applying for ‘probate’. Many families consider whether applying for probate themselves is difficult. A quick search online can give the impression that it is cheap and easy to do it yourself- however this is generally not the case!

There are many cases where you should consider appointing a professional to assist you with probate work, especially with the current delays and issues with the probate registry.

When someone dies and leaves property, money and investments (known as their estate) the executors need to arrange who gets what, in line with the will and the deceased’s wishes. To do this, you need a document known as a ‘grant of representation’. A grant of representation proves your authority to administer the estate. What form this takes will depend on whether a will has been left.

Provided there are no complications (such as issues with the will), once you’ve applied for a grant of probate you’ll normally need to wait up to 16 weeks for it to be issued. In some cases individuals are finding their applications are taking up to a year or longer when extra information is needed. Issues can arise when the will is misinterpreted, the estate values are assessed inaccurately, forms are filed incorrectly or assets are distributed too early. These are just a few of many problems that can arise. 

Applying for probate yourself might at first seem like a quick and easy option, but often without the help of a professional you can find yourself facing long delays and being asked questions you are not able to answer. During this period you will be unable to deal with the property and many of the assets that were owned by the deceased until the grant is issued.

Our private client team would be happy to assist you with the probate process, helping it to go as smoothly as possible during an already difficult time for many families. 


"The uncertainty that this period of estate administration creates cannot be underestimated.”