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Wills & Probate / Probate and the Administration of Estates
When someone dies there are immediate practical things that need to be done when someone dies.
Get a medical certificate from a doctor (GP or at a hospital) and you need one to register the death
Register the death with the local registrar - you’ll then get the documents you need for the funeral.
Arrange the funeral - you can use a funeral director or do it yourself.
You can find up to date information here.
Then there will be legal matters to look after and that process is usually referred to as probate.
Check if there’s a will - this normally states who should deal with the estate;
If there is no will, there is a strict legal order in which close family can apply.
The assets in the estate will need to be valued.
Apply for a ‘grant of representation’ - this gives you the legal right to access things like the person’s bank account.
Pay Inheritance Tax - this is only paid if the estate is worth over £325,000 and is part of applying for a grant of representation. The are lots of rules about Inheritance Tax and you may need advice about this.
Collect in the assets such as money from the sale of the person’s property and from bank accounts.
Pay any debts such as unpaid utilities bills.
Distribute the estate - this means giving any property, money or possessions to the people entitled to it (‘beneficiaries’).
You may not need a grant if the estate passes to the surviving spouse/civil partner because it was held in joint names.
If the person didn't leave a will
The person’s next of kin can usually apply for a grant of representation. The law decides who inherits the estate where there is no will.
How we can help
The responsibilities of personal representatives are important to make sure that the estate is administered correctly. If there is a will, the personal representative must make sure that the wishes of the person who has died, as set out in their will, are followed. If there is no will, they must follow the rules of intestacy (set out in the Administration of Estates Act 1925).
Personal representatives are also responsible for finding out if inheritance tax is due as a result of a person's death. If it is, the personal representative has to make sure that it is paid. Whether inheritance tax needs to be paid can depend on:
how much the property and belongings of the dead person were worth when they died;
the value of any gifts that they gave before they died, and who they gave these gifts to;
the value of certain trusts from which the dead person benefited; or
which people benefit under the will or under the rules of intestacy (the beneficiaries).
Dealing with the affairs of someone who has died can take a long time. It is not unusual for it to take up to a year, perhaps longer if things are not straightforward. Many organisations may be involved in the process, for example, banks, building societies, insurance companies and HM Revenue & Customs.
The estate cannot be dealt with until all claims to it have been received. Individuals have six months from the date when probate was granted to make claims against the estate.