Posted On / 10.07.2017

Bereavement and the Formalities Involved

The death of a family member, partner or close friend can leave you facing some harsh demands. Not only must you try to cope with the grief of losing someone you love, but you must manage the administrative aftermath, and for some this throws up many questions. From registering the death to funding the funeral and finding the Will, Sue Nicolson of Battens Solicitors - one of the largest top 500 firms in the South West – talks us through the formalities in a simple Q&A.

What do I need to do first?

The first thing you will need to do is to obtain the death certificate and register the death at the relevant Registry Office. It will take about 30 to 40 minutes, and you will need to make an appointment in advance.

Paying for the funeral

This is a frequent concern. Many people don’t realise that you can take the invoice for the funeral to the deceased’s bank. Assuming funds are available,  it can- be paid for from their  account.

Is there a Will?

A Will may contain the deceased’s funeral wishes, so it’s essential to establish if they made a Will. The Will will also name one or more of its Executors.  When looking for a Will:

  • Check the deceased’s paperwork, they are likely to have a copy of any Will
  • Enquire with any solicitor they had previously used
  • Check the deceased’s bank
  • Search the Certainty national Will register, via a solicitor or www.certainty.co.uk
  • Failing this, contact other solicitors local to the deceased.

No Will?

It is not the end of the world; the deceased’s assets pass according to the laws of intestacy. A spouse/ other family member can apply to be Administrator to distribute the estate.

I’m an Executor – what must I do?

An Executor is the person(s) named in the Will who must gather in the property, money and possessions of the deceased (the “estate”) and distribute them as per the Will or the laws of intestacy. You don’t have to do this all yourself – a solicitor can help.

What is Probate?

Probate is the process to obtain a Grant of Representation, giving the Executor(s) legal authority to deal with the deceased’s estate.

Is Probate needed?

Whether Probate is required typically depends upon the value and type of assets held. Any assets held jointly with someone can be transferred without Probate. Money held in a cash ISA or sole bank account may require probate, depending on the bank’s policy.

If there are debts

A person’s debts do not necessarily die with them. If there are other assets in the estate, the Executor must settle all debts before distributing the remainder of the estate.

Inheritance Tax

It may be necessary to pay Inheritance Tax depending on the value of a person’s estate. A bank will release funds before you have obtained the Grant if this is necessary.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me. I am happy to see you for a free half hour appointment. Tel: 01935 752372 sue.nicolson@battens.co.uk