Your Guide to Losing a Loved One
Losing a loved one is a difficult and sensitive time for any family. It is hard enough to cope with bereavement without the added stress of having to deal with the inevitable paperwork that follows. When someone passes away, it is crucial that their estate is dealt with by the distribution of their assets and the settling of any debts, known as ‘estate administration’. At Tinsdills, we provide a sympathetic and efficient service to try to make the process of estate administration as stress-free as possible. That is why we have created the following guide to help walk you through what to expect.
- Is there a Will in place?
a) If the deceased left a Will, the first step is to locate the Will, check that it is valid and that it has been correctly executed (a valid Will names the Executors, who are responsible for administering the estate on behalf of your loved one).
b) If the deceased did not leave a Will – i.e. a Will has not been created, the estate must be administered in accordance with the rules of intestacy. These rules are very rigid and govern who is entitled to administer the estate, known as the Administrators, and how the assets of the estate will be divided.
c) The Executors or Administrators are known as the Personal Representatives of the estate.
a) A valuation of the estate’s assets and liabilities will now need to be obtained. This will include writing to investment companies, banks, building societies and estate agents etc. to determine the exact assets and liabilities of the estate at the date of death of your loved one.
- Preparation of Documents
a) Now that a valuation of the estate has been obtained, a HMRC Inheritance Tax return will need to be completed to report the value of your loved one’s estate to HMRC. The estate will either have Inheritance Tax to pay or it will be what is known as an ‘excepted estate’, where Inheritance Tax is not due.
b) At the same time, the relevant application form needs to be completed, which brings together the information collected in relation to your loved one and the Personal Representatives of the estate, as well providing general details regarding the estate.
c) The Inheritance Tax return and probate application form then need to be signed by the Personal Representatives. If there is a valid Will in place, the application to the probate registry will be for a Grant of Probate. If there is not a Will in place, the application to the probate registry will be for Letters of Administration.
- Filing of Documents
a) Once signed by the Personal Representatives, the Inheritance Tax return and application form need to be filed at the probate registry, along with the original Will, two copies of the original Will (if applicable) and your loved one’s death certificate. There will also be a fee due to the probate registry for them to process the application.
b) If Inheritance Tax is due on the estate, the application form will generally be submitted once the Inheritance Tax has been paid or an arrangement has been agreed with HMRC regarding payment.
- Issuing Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
a) Once the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration has been granted by the probate registry, the Personal Representatives will have the formal authority to administer the estate.
- Settling the Estate
a) The Personal Representatives must now collect in the assets of the estate and pay any remaining debts or other expenses.
b) All money from assets such as insurance policy claims, balance of bank and building society accounts and proceeds from the sale of shares or property should be collected in.
c) When all assets have been collected in, any remaining debts of the estate should then be paid.
d) The Personal Representatives should then prepare the estate account. This account should include a breakdown of the total assets, liabilities, fees and administration expenses of your loved one’s estate.
- Distribution of the Estate
a) Once all debts of the estate have been paid, the Personal Representatives should now distribute the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will or the rules of intestacy.
b) Once the Personal Representatives can confirm that all monies have been accounted for within the estate, the estate administration is complete.
Tinsdills are highly experienced in estate administration matters and can deliver expert advice on your next steps. No matter what the circumstances, we will help you throughout this process.
If you would like to discuss estate administration matters in any further detail, please do not hesitate to contact Tinsdills’ highly experienced Wills, Trusts and Probate solicitors who will be pleased to assist you.