If someone has died and you are the Executor, we suggest you contact us as soon as possible; even if you only speak to us so we can have a quick discussion about the position as a whole. There may be one or two aspects of the situation where a timely piece of advice from us at the outset may make a big difference later on.
You need to take all necessary steps for registering the death, if this has not happened already, and for obtaining any necessary consents for the funeral.
Then concentrate on the funeral. Usually there are no legal aspects to this but occasionally there are issues and they obviously need to be resolved quickly.
As soon as you are able to do so, come and see us. We suggest you gather all the deceased’s financial paperwork and let us have a look through it. We will soon identify what is needed. We will then be able to give you an estimate of our fees and the time scale and you can decide if you wish us to administer the whole of the Estate or whether you will do some of the work yourself.
Obtain The Grant of Probate
The administration of an estate starts with taking the necessary steps that will lead to obtaining the Grant of Probate. This means identifying the assets, taking any steps necessary to preserve them and valuing them. We will write to all financial institutions with which the deceased had dealings.
Once the Grant has been issued by the Probate Registry, the Executors have authority to act and are in a position to sell or transfer the assets as required. Until there is a Grant the Executors may not sell the deceased’s chattels, for example a car or furniture. We recognise that it can become very frustrating if there are delays in the period between the death and the Grant of Probate and we make every effort to proceed as rapidly as possible at this time so as to obtain the Grant at the earliest opportunity.
Exchange Contracts for Sale of Property
If there is a house in the Estate that is to be sold, it can be marketed before the Grant is obtained but the estate agents and any prospective purchasers will need to be informed that the Executors will not be in a position to exchange contracts for sale, or to compete the sale, until the Grant has been issued.
H M Revenue & Customs
We will apply to H M Revenue & Customs to reclaim any overpayment of Income Tax made by the deceased and will later account to HMRC for any Income Tax that may become due in respect of any untaxed income received for the benefit of the Estate during the the administration period.
Discharge liabilities of the Estate
We will discharge any liabilities of the Estate. Arrangements can usually be made for the funeral account to be settled by any bank that holds sufficient funds to enable it to do so, even before the Grant of Probate has been issued.
As we go along, we will maintain and constantly update Estate Accounts showing all funds received into and paid out of the Estate.
Once the Grant has been obtained and as soon as there is cash available in the Estate, we will pay any monetary legacies referred to in the Will. We will ensure that any items given as legacies have been properly distributed.
Once all the assets have been realised and all liabilities have been settled, we will be able to distribute the residuary (remaining) assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will. Sometimes it will be possible to make an interim distribution of monies to the residuary beneficiaries before a final distribution can take place; if this is possible, we will do it.
We will keep on top of the situation with the payment of Inheritance Tax to HMRC if this being paid by instalments.
We will provide final Estate Accounts to the Executors identifying all receipts, payments and distributions of monies and property; the residuary beneficiaries are also entitled to a copy of these Accounts.
Finally, there is one aspect to administering an Estate that should not be overlooked. This is that there may sometimes be a significant benefit to be derived from all the beneficiaries agreeing between themselves that they will distribute the Estate in a particular manner, rather than in accordance with the Will.
Deed of Family Arrangement
If it is agreed that this is what should happen, it will be necessary for the beneficiaries to make a Deed of Family Arrangement. This will usually need to be done within 2 years of the date of the death. Further information can be found on the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk. This is something you will need detailed advice about.
Get in touch with our estate administration solicitors in Bristol
Speak to us or arrange an Initial Interview at one of our offices in Shirehampton or Westbury-on-Trym so we can understand the particular circumstances of the Estate with which you are concerned. We will then be able to give you a well-informed estimate of our fees which we hope you will be pleased with. We do not charge a percentage of the value of the Estate but charge you only for the work we actually do.