What do I do when someone dies – FAQ’s?
In an already difficult time, having to also deal with your loved one’s estate during this period can appear daunting and complex. To help remove some of the burden, we have put together the top FAQ’s which will help shed some light on what to do when someone dies.
Firstly, what is Probate?
Probate is the process of administering a person’s estate after they have passed away. The whole process involves organising money, assets and inheritance, and paying off debts and taxes. The process ends once all taxes and debts have been paid and all inheritances have been passed on.
How do I start the probate process?
The first thing you need to do is register the death as soon as possible, usually within 5 days. You then need to find the Will as this will help ensure all wishes are met with regards to the estate. It will also help you put arrangements in place for the funeral. If there is no Will, question 5 below will explain this process. The next step is to book an appointment with your chosen funeral director who will assist with the funeral arrangements.
Once the Will has been located, you should appoint a solicitor to help with the probate process. Whilst the process can be straight forward for low value estates with minimal assets, it becomes more complicated if the Will has multiple facets, there are a large range of assets involved as part of a higher value estate or any part of the Will is disputed by a beneficiary. For these reasons, we would always recommend seeking legal advice so any issues can be resolved at the outset.
What is the difference between a Letter of Administration and a Grant of Probate?
To access all of the deceased assets, you will need to obtain a Grant of Representation. – Either a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.
If a person has a Will, an executor will have been appointed to administer the estate. This executor needs to apply for a Grant of Probate before they can start dealing with the estate. Although the legal right to administer the estate automatically passes to the executor of Will, the Grant of Probate is essentially legal confirmation that the Will is valid and has been registered at the court. Such confirmation is often required by banks and other financial institutions prior to allowing access to funds.
If a person does not have a Will, a Grant of Probate cannot be applied for as no specific person has been appointed to deal with the estate. Without a Will, the person is deemed to have died ‘intestate’ so the Rules of Intestacy governs their estate. According to these rules, only spouses, civil partners, children and other close relatives can inherit. Therefore, one of the listed family members needs to apply to the Court for a Letter of Administration to give them the legal right to administer the estate.
If a valid Will has been made but the executor cannot apply for a Grant of Probate, a family member can apply for a Letter of Administration to deal with the estate instead.
You can apply for either Grant of Representation by contacting your Local Probate Registry.
What is the difference between an Executor of a Will and an Administrator of a Will?
An executor has been named under a Will to deal with the estate. If you have been named as an executor, there is no legal obligation on you to fulfil this duty. As an executor, you should apply to your local Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate to start dealing with the estate.
If there is a Will but the executor does not want to deal with the estate or cannot be located someone must become an Administrator of the estate. This must be a spouse, civil partner, child and other close relative. They must apply to the court for a Letter of Administration to give them the legal right to deal with the estate.
What happens if there is no Will?
If there is no Will, or the Will is invalid, the deceased will be deemed to have died ‘intestate’. There are complex legal rules which apply to an intestate estate. They determine who can apply to administer the estate, and who is entitled to benefit from the estate. Click here for more information on this process.
Remember to keep all of these FAQ’s when someone dies in mind.
Our aim at Keebles is to remove the stress from this process and take the burden away from you. If you have any questions which remain unanswered or would like advice on an estate, please contact Michele Wightman on email@example.com or call Michele on 0114 290 6207.