The death of someone close to you is an upsetting event in anyone’s life. Not only have you lost a friend or a family member, you also have the difficult task of handling their belongings, or estate. If you’re in this situation, and looking for assistance, we are here to help. What to do when someone dies:
The First Steps
Though it may be difficult, there are some things you should do soon after their passing.
- Register the death
To register the death of the person who has passed away, you will need to some specific information. This consists of a full name and date of birth. The register office should inform you if anything else is required. It may seem a small task, but not registering a death may result in a criminal offence.
- The Funeral
The easiest way to arrange the funeral is to get in touch with a local Funeral Directors. They can discuss the plans with you, and give you the support you need. Arranging the funeral will help to provide some closure for their family and friends, as well taking pressure off you. While you can do this yourself, it is widely regarded as far less stressful and time consuming to appoint a funeral director.
- Inform the relevant organisations
Financial matters will be the hardest part to handle. This is because you need to claim the entire estate and it can be difficult to know where to start. You must contact banks, pension holders and life insurance policys to extract all possible funds belonging to an estate. Also you must inform any financial policy holders and any organisations the deceased may be a shareholder in.
If There is a Will
If the deceased left a Will, all entitled beneficiaries will be noted in the document. Even if it is signed however, the estate will still require ‘Probate’. Probate refers to the judicial process of proving the Will to be the true last wishes of the person who has passed away. To prove this, you will need a legal document called a Grant of Probate. This will allow you to distribute the estate. As Executor, this task falls to you. However, you can also hire the services of either a solicitor or probate specialist to help you obtain this. At Blanchard’s, we can apply for this on your behalf, ensuring you won’t be liable for the costs.
There are some instances, however, where Probate will not be needed. For instance, if land, property, or shares are not attached to the estate. Or if they have a surviving partner.
Certain checks will also be important. Firstly, the Will would not list which assets are attached to the estate. Therefore to ensure all assets have been located, we can conduct an ‘Asset Search’. We can write to the major financial institutions and enquire as to any personal property or accounts the deceased may have held. Secondly, we can check for creditors and debtors and settle any liabilities. Thirdly, similar to an Asset Search, we can search for any jointly owned assets. For example, any accounts shared with their spouse.
Another important element in the administration of the estate is Inheritance Tax. In each case, information of all known assets must be passed over to HMRC. This includes property, possessions and money. You will still need to report it even if there is no Inheritance Tax to pay.
Following this, you must distribute the estate. This will mean the property must be cleared and sold as well as any shares. For property clearance and other probate property services we highly recommend Probate Property Solutions. They have years of experience dealing with estates and give you full peace of mind through this process. It can be a complicated, frustrating and timeconsuming task distributing an estate. Blanchards can take this burden on for you as well as the selling of shares and properties, making a already stressful time in your life far easier.
If There is No Will
When an individual passes without leaving a Will, they are referred to as ‘Intestate’. According to the Law of Intestacy, the estate is inherited by the closest living relative to the deceased. This can be one individual or several, equally entitled beneficiaries. Unlike a Will, there is not an appointed Executor in cases of Intestacy, which can make matters complicated.
The distribution of estates like these are time consuming, as well as difficult in the face of issues and complications.
Similar to cases of Testacy (a Will), Blanchards can value the estate and get a full overview of any assets. Once we have this, we can apply for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. Letters of Administration authorises an Administrator for the estate, who acts as a personal representative for the beneficiaries. This can help with releasing funds.
Following this you must apply for grant of probate from the probate registry, allowing you to deal with the estate. From here, you must visit a solicitor or probate registry and swear an oath . This is to confirm all the details you have given about the estate are accurate to the best of your knowledge. In some instances you may not need probate. For example, if it doesnt include, land, property, shares or if they have a surviving partner.
Paying and Selling
Now comes the process of paying and selling. You may need to pay off debts and taxes owed by the deceased from the estate as well as pay inheritance tax. Inheritance tax is only paid if the estate is above £325,000 unless you are a spouse then the threshold is up to £1,000,000. You must also sell any shares belonging to the deceased and liquidate any assets. This may mean selling any properties, cars and other high valued items.
Finally, you must distribute the estate according to the laws of intestacy. The entire process can be a daunting and confusing task especially when still grief stricken. Therefore, it is often best to allow a third party to distribute an estate on your behalf. Blanchards can perform every step of dealing with a deceased estate for you, making an already horrible experience stress free.
If you need assistance with a deceased estate please contact us here.
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