Wills and Probate: What do I do when someone dies?

Image od Sad Lady - Will and Probate Advice CardiffWhen someone close dies, there’s so much to do.

Family, friends, and official organisations need to be informed, and you’ll need to get a death certificate and register the death within five days, or eight days in Scotland.

You’ll need to start the process of organising a funeral within five days, too. You can do this or you can contact a funeral director to do it for you.

You will also need to find out if your loved one left a will.

If they left a will:

That will tell you what should happen to their estate and it will name executors.

They will oversee the implementation of your loved one’s wishes.

They will need to apply to the Probate Registry for a grant of representation to allow them to legally carry out those wishes.

If there is no will, or it’s invalid, or it doesn’t name executors:

An administrator should be appointed to deal with the estate. They need to apply to the Probate Registry for letters of administration to allow them to proceed within the law.

Then, the law will decide how property, goods, and money is divided.

Their personal possessions will go to their spouse, civil partner, or children.

Their spouse or civil partner also inherits the first £250,000 of the estate.

There are complicated rules about who inherits any money or property over the first £250,000 – it’s best to get legal advice to ensure they are followed correctly.

What should executors or administrators do?

They must pay off any debts or outstanding payments before they distribute the estate.

It’s recommended that they place a statutory advertisement in The Gazette to locate and notify any creditors before the estate is divided between the beneficiaries. This helps to protect executors, administrators, and trustees from claims from unidentified creditors.

Is probate always necessary?

If there is a small estate – worth under £5,000 – probate isn’t normally needed. If this is the case, executors or administrators should write to the bank or buildings society holding the dead person’s funds.

Will you have to pay inheritance tax?

There is a 40% inheritance tax on any estate valued at more than £325,000 – except if it is left to a spouse, civil partner, or charity.

If the person’s spouse or civil partner died before them, that limit could rise to £650,000. It’s worth getting professional legal advice on this.

You’ll need to inform several official organisations about the death. There is a service called Tell Us Once which informs most government organisations in one go. Find more details here: https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death/organisations-you-need-to-contact-and-tell-us-once

Useful information you will need:

You will also need to tell:

You can also use the Bereavement Register https://www.thebereavementregister.org.uk/ and Deceased Preference Service http://www.deceasedpreferenceservice.co.uk/register.html to remove their name from mailing lists and databases.

If you are unsure what to do when someone has died, please give me (Rhys) a call on 029 2056 7836 or email me using the contact page for a free initial consultation.

Rhys Lloyd Thomas,

Image of Rhys Lloyd Thomas


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