If you are responsible for administering a loved one’s estate, it can be an intimidating prospect. However, there is a set process to follow and our experienced team would be happy to guide you through the procedure step by step.
The exact process to be followed depends on whether or not the deceased had a valid Will at the time they died. So the first thing to check is if they left a Will.
Step 1: Find out if the deceased left a Will
- There may be a copy of their Will among their financial papers. The Will will state who the deceased wished to be their Executor. The Executor(s) are responsible for finding out information about the estate and distributing it in terms of the Will.
- If the deceased did not leave a Will, you will need to apply to court to be appointed as Executor. There are rules setting out who has priority to take the role as Executor.
Step 2: Find out information about the estate
The Executor will need to obtain date-of-death valuations for all items in the deceased’s estate. This includes houses and other land, bank accounts, shareholdings, jewellery and so on and any debts. They also need to find out a history of gifts made by the deceased within the last seven years. The Executor can then complete an inventory of the estate.
Step 3: Apply for Confirmation
- Once all details are known about the estate, an application for Confirmation (known as Probate in England and Wales) can be drafted. If the estate is taxable for Inheritance Tax these forms will also be drafted at this stage.
- Once the forms have been approved by the Executor, they will be sent to HMRC if tax is payable and then sent to the Sheriff Court.
- The court will grant Confirmation – the Executor’s legal power to gather up the estate for distribution.
Step 4: Gather together estate assets
Once they have Confirmation, the Executor can complete the various closure forms to gather together the assets. If the house is to be sold, this can now take place.
Step 5: Finalise estate
Once all the funds have been gathered in, the Executor can pay out the estate. Any debts are paid first, such as household bills, outstanding credit card balances, Legal Rights claims and any funeral expenses that have not already been settled. Then they can pay out to the beneficiaries.
If there is a Will, this will state how the estate is to be paid out. If there is no Will, the beneficiaries are determined by law.
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