When a person dies, control over their estate, which comprises all their assets and property not accounted for by a valid existing Will, will vest in either an executor where a Will exists, or administrator where no Will exists or the Will is found to be invalid. There are certain affairs that either position holder will have to act quickly to handle.
Appointment of an executor or administrator
Where a person dies having left a Will, they will appoint an executor to handle their affairs. In most cases this will be a family member. If no Will has been left, or the Will is invalid, an administrator, usually a next of kin, will handle the deceased’s estate.
What to do first
Certain affairs have to be handled almost immediately. These include informing government bodies such as HMRC and the Department of Work and Pensions that the person has died.
Consult a Wills and Probate Solicitor
If a nominated executor or an administrator anticipate complexities in handling the estate, or the validity of the Will is likely to be contested, it is always advisable to consult a Wills and Probate Lawyer.
Applying for Probate
In most cases it is illegal to just hand out parts of a deceased's estate or assets to beneficiaries without applying for probate. This judicially-recognised measure allows an executor to handle the deceased’s bank accounts and real property.
A person who is named as executor will apply to a court to be granted probate. An administrator in intestacy will also apply to court, but in this instance, they will be seeking Letters of Administration. A standard fee of £215 for estates over £5,000 applies. If a Probate Solicitor is used, this fee is reduced to £155. After application, the person seeking probate will be called to interview at the probate registry. The application must take an inventory and documentation pertaining to all assets belonging to the deceased.
Once granted, the executor or administrator can proceed to distribute assets. Before distribution, any inheritance tax found to be due must be paid to HMRC.
Contact our Wills and Probate Solicitors London
Our solicitors have extensive experience in handling matters relating to trusts, HMRC and tax implications, Power of Attorney and business advice. Our client base is not only domestic, but international, meaning we are well placed to advise on situations where a deceased either had assets overseas or their primary domicile was not in the UK.