We are often asked what are the steps to undertake when a person dies, and we know that whether it is a friend or a family member, it can be a daunting task dealing with the many issues that can arise on your own. There are concerns relating to the money, funeral, property, benefits, and liabilities which must be sorted out as well as ensuring that the deceased’s wishes are adhered to.

We understand that administering a deceased loved one’s estate is a daunting task, particularly since you will be grieving their loss and we are happy to assist you in this sometime confusing journey.

The estate administration process differs depending on whether the deceased left a will or not. The latter being know as an intestacy. We explore these two situations below.

If the deceased left a Will, then Executors are the people  appointed to deal with the estate of the person who has died.  They will be seen as the legal owners of the deceased’s assets and are under a duty to act for the beneficiaries of the Will in ensuring the administration  is done in the most efficient way possible.

The role of the executor includes the following

  • Responsibility for the funeral;
  • Gathering financial information, calculating and settling any Inheritance Tax;
  • Applying to the Probate Registry for Grants of Representation (either a Grant of Probate if there is a will or Letters of Administration if there is no will);
  • Selling any property or business belonging to the deceased;
  • Distributing the funds to the Beneficiaries

What happens if someone dies without a will?

If the deceased did not leave a will, then there are no executors appointed. In this case, the nearest relatives are the people charged with dealing with the estate administration.  The list is set down in statute and if you are unsure of who is able to act, our Lawyers have many years’ experience dealing with intestate estate and are ready to assist you.

Once an Administrator is appointed, they have the same responsibilities to deal with the estate as an Executor. The main difference is, the identities of the Beneficiaries and how the estate is to be divided will be decided under the Rules of Intestacy and again, we can assist with ensuring that the correct beneficiaries are identified through our connection with well-respected Genealogists. We can also assist with Will searches and obtaining insurance in the event of a Will or a missing beneficiary being found in the future.

Do you always need probate?

This would depend on the assets and how they are owned and you may not need to go through the probate process if the estate consists of joint assets or is quite low for example.

We have an experienced Contentious Probate team should disagreements arise regarding the validity of a Will or the ownership of an asset and would be happy to assist in this sensitive manner.

Please contact our team via the contact form below or by phone on 01702 662963 (Essex)  020 35537115 (London).