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What to do when someone dies?

When someone dies it can feel that there are an overwhelming number of things to be taken care of, all at a very stressful and upsetting time. 

The main things which need to be taken care of within the first few weeks are:-

  • Registering the death, this needs to be done within 5 days of the death.
  • Arrange the funeral, you may find that instructions have been listed in the Will, or a funeral plan taken out.

Once the funeral has taken place, the next step will be to start contacting various organisations to inform them of the death and begin the process of dealing your loved one’s estate.

This is where we can help. 

We can deal with the important matters, such as the Will, explaining to you the terms and what they mean, as well as taking care of all the paperwork.

If you would like to talk further about a loved one’s estate, please contact us.

Probate

Probate, or the administration of a deceased’s estate, are terms often used when talking about dealing with someone’s personal affairs when they die. 

These terms can be used to include the process by which the relevant paperwork is obtained, the settlement of all the deceased’s debts or the distribution of their personal property. However, they can be used to cover a whole range of matters relating to a deceased’s affairs. 

There are two ways in which a deceased’s personal property can be distributed:

  1. Following the terms of the deceased’s valid will.
  2. If there is no valid will, under the rules of intestacy. 

The time required to deal with administering a deceased’s estate can be considerable, with the amount of paperwork that needs to be completed becoming a daunting prospect. All this coming at an already stressful and upsetting time, the task of administrating a deceased’s estate can easily become overwhelming. 

This is where we can help. We begin by having an initial meeting with you to discuss the process of administration. 

At the meeting we will also be able to gather information about the deceased’s estate which will enable us to give you information specific to your situation. 

If you want us to, we can arrange the visit to take place in your home or workplace. 

The next step will then be to establish the value of the deceased’s estate, by collecting in information about all their assets (e.g. money in their bank accounts) and their liabilities (e.g. money which they owe). 

This is achieved by us contacting the relevant companies to obtain accurate figures relating to the deceased’s estate so that we are able to paint an accurate picture of the whole of the deceased’s estate. In addition, if there is a property involved, we are able to arrange for an experience professional to attend and provide a valuation. Saving you the trouble of having to arrange it separately yourself. Once we have all the necessary information we then proceed to complete the relevant inheritance tax forms and prepare the documents that have to be obtained to begin distributing the deceased’s estate.

Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration

When someone dies, it is can be necessary to apply for a grant of representation to give you the legal right to deal with their estate. 

What type of grant of representation you will need to get will depend on whether a Will was left or not.

It is this process of dealing with a person’s estate that is often referred to as probate.

If there is a Will

If there is a Will this will normally state who is to deal with the estate. A person appointed under a Will is called an executor and the grant of representation they apply for is called a Grant of Probate.

If there is no Will

If no valid Will exists then there is a set legal order of who will have the right to deal with the estate. The person entitled to deal with the estate is called an administrator and the grant of representation they will apply for is called Letters of Administration.

Claims against the estate

Sadly, there are few things more certain to cause family disputes than a relative’s money. 

If somebody thinks they should have inherited from a family member but have been left out, they can get very angry and bitter. Whether or not there is a Will, some people think they have a right to share in the estate.

Occasionally, the law agrees with them.

An Act of Parliament called the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 says that some people have the right to money from an estate even if they are excluded by the Will or the intestacy rules. 

Those people are:

  • Your spouse or civil partner
  • Any former spouses or civil partners who have not remarried or entered into a new civil partnership
  • Your children, including anybody you treated as one of your children.
  • Anyone you wholly or partly supported materially or financially during your life.

We can’t predict exactly whether the court would allow a particular claim against an estate. The court has to take a number of things into account. One of the most important factors is whether you gave proper consideration to the people who would naturally be expected to share in the inheritance. 

If the court thinks a claim against the estate is justified, the law allows it to order a number of different remedies for the claimant:

  • Regular maintenance payments for a period of time
  • A lump sum payment
  • The transfer of property or the creation of a trust to provide for its future ownership.

Usually, claims against an estate must be made within six months after probate. 
If you would like to talk more about claims against an estate, please contact us

Varying a Will

A Will can be altered within two years of the date of death, provided that all relevant beneficiaries named in the Will consent. 

To alter the Will a Deed of Variation is drawn up and signed by all relevant parties.

There can be many reason to have a Deed of Variation prepared, including:-

  • Providing an inheritance for beneficiaries not previously included.
  • Mitigating inheritance tax.
  • Increasing or decreasing a beneficiaries inheritance.

If you would like to talk about having a Deed of Variation prepared, or have any questions, please contact us.