A marvellous privilege for loved ones

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FOLLOWING a large advert for a local law firm explaining about probate, I feel I must offer an explanation of just how easy it is to do it oneself.

For most of us, myself included, our first thought is to automatically visit a solicitor after a death.

A few years ago I had three family deaths in under three years.

Hell on earth.

On my first visit to a solicitor she began to explain what a Grant of Probate entails.

I was amazed to realise there was nothing a first-class idiot (me) could not do.

My first probate dealt with a small business.

My second, with stocks and shares.

My third and last was extremely straightforward.

I rang the probate offices who explained everything, and paid them a visit with a million questions, a big writing pad and a pen.

Write it all down and ask questions. If you don’t understand, say so.

After getting all paperwork together, writing off to banks, building societies, insurance companies, premium bonds etc for various cancellations of accounts and policies, getting a house valuation, sending off certified copies of the death certificates, they sent me the info I needed for the probate form.

Any problems I just rang and asked for help. They were all very kind – even the VAT people and income tax.

Since then I have helped countless people or set them on the right track.

At this point I must say self-help will not apply when there is acrimony in the family, or when there are complicated business interests.

Matters do have to be reasonably straightforward, one size does not fit all.

And now a rather wonderful bonus. While on my first probate I suddenly realised I had the privilege of doing something for the family member who had died.

This really buoyed me up and helped carry me through a horrible time, plus my mind was occupied and I had a certain focus.

The forms have hardly altered in almost 20 years – you can do it.

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