Use Viewber to reduce probate delays

Posted on 24 October 2023
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Use Viewber to reduce probate delays

One of Benjamin Franklin’s most famous quotes is “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxesand in 230 years, the adage still holds. 

You may find yourself recalling Franklin’s words if you are involved in a probate case. As a solicitor, you’ll know probate is a liminal time for family and friends. On one hand, there is a need to grieve, process and digest, while on the other, there’s a pressing requirement to wrap up affairs and pay the Government the taxes it is due. 

Probate is not always a simple process. From family fallouts or no Will, to no descendants in the local vicinity or a complex estate structure, the journey can be far from linear. The probate timeline is one that places enormous pressure on executors and administrators, especially given a ‘grant of probate’ or ‘grant of letters of administration’ will only be issued – and any property owned by the deceased be legally sold – after any inheritance tax is paid.  

The toll of this illogical order of events was highlighted by a recent survey undertaken by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC). It found that 50% of the conveyancers who took part in the research said that up to 25% of their clients needed to take out a loan to cover inheritance tax bills. 

The CLC survey also found that 70% of probate practitioners reported waiting in excess of 10 weeks for probate to be granted, with 57% of those saying it was taking longer than 19 weeks. 

Delays during what is already an upsetting time have plagued the industry for years, with many citing staff cuts and post-Covid backlogs for exacerbating inefficiencies in HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). 

A little-known fact is that Viewber is already helping practitioners in the space speed up the process. If you’d like to know how it helps speed up read on – and we’ve not spoken to anyone who wouldn’t appreciate help:

Key Management 

Viewbers who pass enhanced vetting and DBS checks are qualified to become key holders. This is a useful service when there’s physical distance between the solicitor, the executors/administrators and any property within the deceased’s estate. For continuity, the same Viewber can hold the key and be called upon to open up, ‘sit and wait’ and lock up after, should anyone need to access the deceased’s property. 

Document Location 

While we live in a very digitalised society, some people much prefer pen and paper and most documents are help physically. This can present a challenge for solicitors trying to locate essential documents. As well as the obvious – a Will – a solicitor will need title deeds, insurance policies, bank account statements and marriage certificates when applying for probate.  

In the absence of digital copies and with full permission, a Viewber can visit a property and look through personal effects for anything that will help the process. This service is most beneficial when the executors/administrators live far away from the deceased’s property, or if there is a reluctance to re-enter the family home.  

Let in a Chartered Surveyor/Estate Agent 

One of the first jobs to complete after a death certificate has been issued is to value the estate of the person who has died. If there is a property, a ‘valuation for probate services’ must be booked with either a chartered surveyor or an estate agent. Access to the entire property and its grounds is essential. A Viewber can provide a ‘meet, greet, unlock and secure after’ service, with maximum flexibility on time and date to minimise delays.  

To Validate Probate Home Insurance 

The executors/administrators – and solicitors acting on their behalf – are responsible for securing any property in an estate while it’s empty. A vacant home’s vulnerable state has prompted the development of specific probate home insurance products, but many policies of this nature are only valid if a property in probate is inspected regularly. A Viewber can undertake these inspections on behalf of executors/administrators and solicitors, providing a written report backed up with photographs, if required. 

To Prepare Property Marketing Packs 

As CLC’s survey results have exposed, many executors/administrators are taking out personal loans to pay inheritance tax bills. As a result, the sale of a property in the estate becomes a pressing matter so they can clear any debts they have accrued. The good news is a probate property can be marketed and shown to potential buyers before probate has been granted. 

Advance marketing starts with the compilation of a property listing. A Viewber can visit a property to produce a floorplan, a set of photographs, property details and even a 360° tour, if desired. If the property is listed online, a Viewber can also accompany viewings, allowing a purchaser to be found and in a position to exchange as soon as probate has been granted.  

A Viewber completing marketing packs and viewings can streamline the selling process, keep third-party involvement to a minimum and reduce delays. 

Working with Viewber 

We are set up to work with solicitors and probate practitioners across the country, as our network is nationwide. There will be a trained, experienced Viewber close to every single probate property you are looking after. 

Our services are particularly useful if the property is located miles from your office or without family who wish to be involved. Discretion and sensitivity are, of course, guaranteed. If you would like to learn more about our probate services, please book in for a discovery call 

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