When a person dies, authoirty to deal with their affairs passes to any Executor that they may have appointed under their Will. Therefore, the first step to take is to ascertain whether there is a Will. Most people would keep their Will at home, at the solicitors who drafted the Will or in another safe place such as the bank. If the Will can be located, the person/people names as Executors can be identified and the terms of the Will followed with regard to any funeral wishes and the distribution of the money and assets held by the deceased (also known as the estate).
If however, a Will cannot be traced, the person is deemed to have died "intestate" and the Intestacy rules apply to the estate. We can adivse you as to who would be the best person to be appointed as the Administrator of the estate in the individual circumstances. The Administrator does largely the same job as the Executor and the estate would be distributed in accordance with the intestacy legislation.
The Executor or Administrator needs to find out the value of the estate as at the date of death and once this has been extablished by having items such as property, vehicles and jewellery valued and contacting the banks/building societies/pension providers etc, we will know whether Inheritance Tax (IHT) will be payable.
If IHT is payable, or there are some complicated/unusual assets, the IHT forms will need to be completed with detailed information about all of the assets and submitted to HMRC with the payment of the assessed tax. Once HMRC are happy with the infomration, they provide a Certificate that will enable the application to the Probate Registry for the official Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration in the case of an intestacy) to proceed.
If no IHT is payable, a short form of the tax return can be prepared and submitted directly to the Probate Registry with the application for the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration. Once the Grant has been issued, the Executors or Administrators then have the authority to encash, sell or transfer the assets held within the estate and then distribute the estate accordingly.
If you have been appointed as an Executor and need some help or advice, or if you have lost a loved one and don't know whether there is a Will, please contact us and we can discuss the situation with you.
If you there are only small amounts of money held within the deceased person's bank accounts and no property to sell, it may be that you can use the small estates proceudre to close down the individual bank accounts without the need for a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration. If this is the case, the bank should be able to provide you with the forms that you need to complete. If you need any help with these forms, we are more than happy to assist you so please give us a call.
Barrass White Legal
G4, The Enterprise Village
Prince Albert Gardens
North East Lincolnshire
Tel: 01472 353961
SRA Registration Number: 607982
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