Support When It Matters: Helping Families Prepare For Probate

By Damon Segal – Co-founder at LifeTidy (www.lifetidy.co)

Providing end-of-life care is not easy. For all of those involved, it’s an incredibly difficult and emotional time, which can make any decision- making a big challenge. In these situations, it’s hard enough to decide what you want to make for dinner, let alone what to prepare for probate.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that probate is an incredibly complex, often chaotic process for loved ones and executors. If you are not organised, it can be even more confusing, stressful and expensive.

DEALING WITH PROBATE FIRST-HAND

I know just how difficult probate can be. When my brother suddenly passed away a few years ago, I was left to manage his estate.

Due to the nature of his passing, both he and I were completely unprepared. As a result, I was left with the monumental task of navigating probate without any of the right information to hand. If this wasn’t challenging enough, I was doing all of this while grieving the loss of my brother, which made the whole experience very unpleasant.

From start to finish, the process was incredibly long and time-consuming, being made considerably more complicated by the fact none of my brother’s affairs were in order. After opening just one draw in the study and being met with a mountain of paperwork, I knew that I had a lot of work ahead of me.

It transpired that my brother had stored years of paperwork, assets and other important information in various locations around the house – from boxes under the bed to files on his computer, with no evident filing system. There was also the challenge of tracing passwords and requesting access to find certain information which was an extra challenge I hadn’t even considered. This meant locating the right documents took months. Far longer than it needed to. And there are still gaps that I have been unable to fill.

But this situation is not unique to me, there are many others around the UK facing very similar situations. Research we conducted at LifeTidy found that 94% of people do not have their affairs fully organised in the event of their death and approximately 30 million people do not have a will which can have a significant and detrimental impact on probate. This left me thinking that I would love to help people in my situation avoid some of the pitfalls to help make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

THE IMPORTANCE OF HELPING FAMILIES GET PREPARED

The best piece of advice that caregivers can give to clients and their families is to get organised. My three top tips for getting prepared are:

1. Find out if the person has a will

This will determine how you apply for a grant of probate.

2. Locate important information and assets

For me, this was the most stressful part of probate and is why I came up with LifeTidy, this secure online platform stores all assets and other important information, such as birth and marriage certificates, saving accounts and policies in one safe place. Advising families to start the process of locating and collating this information as early as possible, especially when they can get guidance from their loved ones regarding the location of important documentation or valuations on items like jewellery, will save a lot of worries later down the line.

3. Find out how much inheritance tax you might need to pay

Confirm whether the estate is liable for inheritance tax to avoid any unexpected payments. Tools like an inheritance tax calculator can help with this. By encouraging families to get organised today, caregivers can help provide much-needed peace of mind for tomorrow.

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