At risk of stating the obvious … it’s a busy time in probate and estate planning … and also in property.
The last few years have seen a number of disruptions to the probate service resulting in; increased timescales within which a grant of representation can be obtained, growth in the volume of applications (a response to proposed fee changes) and significant backlogs of work for solicitors. All of which has further been exacerbated by Covid.
There are, however, things that can be done to progress a case, work that can begin and be completed in the event of understandable caseload delays.
Buying time, getting your cases underway, early on
In many instances cases will involve property, property that is, in more cases than not, unoccupied awaiting the next stage in its ownership journey.
A number of important steps can be taken to help a client, win time back for solicitors and put solicitors in an advantageous position, time-wise, for when a case is worked on in earnest:
- Property valuation – in most cases providing the address, access permissions and means is all that is needed to begin the process of gathering all evidences and research in the preparation of an HMRC compliant valuation. Find out more here
- Protecting property – an unoccupied property will be more susceptible to the vulnerabilities of weather and crime. Proactive measures to assess and protect property, especially where it will remain vacant for a while, will benefit the condition of the property, and put it in the best position for its future ownership. Find out more here
- Insuring the property – there are risks associated with unoccupied property; crime – theft, vandalism, squatters, water damage due to burst pipes and weather damage amongst others. Arranging insurance, as soon as possible, insurance that is flexible in uncertain timescales, is important sooner rather than later. Find out more here
Getting started early gives the opportunity to provide peace of mind to your client, that work has began and is ongoing, and breathing space for legal professionals as they work through heavy caseloads.
Commenting on the current delays, Michael Edwards, Business Director at Executor Solutions said:
“while there are a range of measures being introduced to help with probate delays, the current situation is not going away any time soon.
Practitioners are best to advise their clients to protect assets like property as best they can while the case progresses to ensure the full value is realised on completion of the sale.”
Like private treaty sales, executors should be encouraged to prepare the property as fully as they can to ensure no further delays to the process.