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Probate: What to Do When Someone Dies

Probate: What to Do When Someone Dies

By In Blog, Probate On 27/01/2020


When someone dies, you need to check whether or not the deceased had a valid Will in place. If so, you need to contact the people named as ‘Executors’, as they are responsible for dealing with the estate. If there is no Will, the deceased’s next of kin must do it instead.

Administering an estate after a death

There is always so much to do following a death. For example, you will need to get a death certificate, arrange the funeral and redirect the deceased’s post. Once this initial activity has settled, your attention will turn to all the deceased’s belongings. This is known collectively as their ‘estate’. It includes things such as their property, money and personal possessions.

Unless the entire estate is passing to a living joint owner, someone will need to deal with the deceased’s belongings. This is called administering an estate. However, there are very strict rules on who is allowed to do this. That is why when someone dies, one of the first tasks is to check whether or not there is a valid Will in place.

If there is a Will

If there is a Will, you will see that the deceased has named Executors. These are the people he/she wanted to administer their estate after their death. You must comply with the deceased’s wishes. So, unless you have been named as the only Executor, you need to contact the Executors and ask them to act.

If there is no Will

If there is no Will, the deceased’s next of kin must administer the estate instead. Often, this is a spouse, child or grandchild. This person is known as the ‘Administrator’.

Check whether Probate is needed

Once the Executors or Administrators have been sorted, the next step is to check whether Probate is needed. Most people only encounter the word ‘Probate’ after a loved one dies and may not fully understand what it means. Essentially, Probate is a legal process that gives someone the legal authority to administer a deceased person’s estate.

However, Probate is not needed every time someone dies. It is only necessary if the estate is over a certain value. Every bank and financial institution has its own rules, so it is difficult to say exactly what constitutes a small estate. Typically, if the deceased owned a property in their sole name, or had more than £15,000 worth of assets, Probate will be needed.

If Probate is not needed

If the deceased had a small estate, or everything is passing to a joint owner (such as a surviving spouse), Probate is not necessary. In these cases, the Executor or Administrator can collect in the deceased’s assets. Usually, a bank or financial institution will want to see a copy of the death certificate before releasing any funds.

Once this has been done, the assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are either named in the Will, or are determined by the Rules of Intestacy (if there is no Will).

If Probate is needed

On the other hand, if Probate is required, the Executor or Administrator cannot do anything until a Grant of Representation has been obtained from the Probate Registry. To get a Grant, the Executor or Administrator must –

  • Calculate the value of the deceased’s estate
  • Fill in the Inheritance Tax forms
  • Pay any Inheritance Tax that is due
  • Fill in a PA1 form and send it to the Probate Registry along with the Will and two copies (if applicable), the death certificate and the Inheritance Tax forms
  • Pay the Probate Registry fee

Probate solicitor Sunderland

If your loved one has recently died and you are not sure what to do next, please contact us for advice. We can explain whether or not Probate is needed. If it is, we can handle the process on your behalf. This involves getting a Grant of Representation from the Probate Registry and administering the estate.

For expert legal advice, please call our Sunderland solicitors on 0191 567 7244 and we’ll be happy to help you. 

If you would rather contact us online, email us at info@cooklaw.co.uk and one of our team will be in contact with you shortly.


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