One of the questions we are most often asked is, “can I not just do it myself?” With issues like divorce, and probate especially, it’s easy to see why you might be tempted to download and complete the paperwork yourself. While some do manage to successfully navigate the legal system alone, we wouldn’t recommend it.
Inheritance Tax – IHT200 & IHT400
At an already difficult time, dealing with probate and inheritance is an extra stress for which few of us are prepared. Forms IHT200 and IHT400 must be completed in order to assess and pay any outstanding inheritance tax to HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs).
Both IHT200 and IHT400 (and it’s important to ensure you use the correct one) are downloadable and you can attempt to complete them yourself. It is worth remembering, though, the potential consequences of any mistakes. Failure to pay inheritance tax, or correctly carry out the right procedures around probate, can result in penalties from HMRC or even criminal prosecution.
Using a solicitor for your divorce might seem like an unnecessary expense; after all, you see celebrities divorcing each other all the time, it can’t be that hard, can it? Unfortunately, divorce law in England & Wales is both highly complex, and constantly evolving. Many would also argue that the law is antiquated, actively placing obstacles in the way of ending a failed marriage.
A high percentage of litigant-in-person divorce cases (where the petitioners represent themselves) fail at court. Common mistakes include not specifying a correct legal basis for the divorce, or failing to follow the legal practice directions before issuing the court proceedings.
Engaging the services of a fully qualified solicitor for your divorce will prevent you from falling foul of common mistakes. Experienced, trained legal practitioners can also save you money, and hassle, by ensuring that the court process is as quick and painless as possible. You will also be protected by the guarantees and indemnities solicitors have in place, should anything go wrong.
The English and Welsh common law legal system is built upon hundreds of years of complex practice, legislation, and case law. Just as doctors, dentists, vets, and mechanics train to understand the intricacies of their subjects, so do lawyers. Our expert view is that – just as you wouldn’t expect a mechanic to extract an infected tooth, or a dentist to service your car – it’s wrong to expect an unqualified person to navigate the legal system.