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What to do when a loved one dies - Your Legal Guide

Losing a loved one is never easy and we fully understand what an emotional and upsetting time it is for all concerned.

There is a great deal to sort in the first weeks following the death of your loved one and Bartletts Solicitors is here to support you at every stage – from helping you find your loved one’s Will and carry out their expressed wishes or explaining the Rules of Intestacy and how they impact you, through to informing the necessary organisations of your loved one’s death.

What Needs To Be Done If There Is A Will?

Firstly, the original Will needs to be found, which can only be released to the Executors, those chosen by the deceased to distribute their estate, or their legal representatives. We can help you find this and, once you have the Will, we can help you carry out your loved one’s wishes by explaining the terms of the Will in straightforward jargon-free language.

What Needs To Be Done If There Is No Will?

When there is no Will, the Rules of Intestacy dictate how the estate is distributed. Intestacy can be complicated but we’ll help you make sense of it all and understand what the Rules of Intestacy mean for you.

Who Is Responsible For Handling The Estate?

The Personal Representative is responsible for distributing the estate, an individual known as an Executor if there’s a Will or an Administrator if there’s no Will.

A Personal Representative has a number of duties to fulfil, including finding the assets, calculating if and how much Inheritance Tax is owed and settling any remaining debts, as well as distributing the estate according to the Will or Rules of Intestacy.

The law takes the administering of an estate seriously and Personal Representatives must take care to handle the estate accurately as they can be held personally accountable for any mistakes made. However, there’s no need to worry as with our support you’ll fulfil your duties correctly at every step of the process.

A Personal Representative will also need to obtain a Grant of Representation, the document that enables you to start administering the estate. This document is called a Grant of Probate when there is a Will or a Grant of Letters of Administration when there is no Will.

If the assets are of low value or held jointly, however, a Grant of Representation may not be needed. Bartletts can advise whether you need this document or not and support you throughout the entire process of distributing your loved one’s estate.

Which Companies Need To Know Of Your Loved One’s Death?

There are a number of organisations that need to be informed of the death of your loved one, including financial institutions, creditors, pension providers and insurance firms. Many will need to see an original Registrar’s copy of the death certificate.

Do You Need To Tell The Organisations Yourself?

The institutions and organisations need to be informed as soon as possible following the death of your loved one. However, we are here to help and can undertake this task for you, handling all related enquiries too.

What Happens When There’s A Property To Deal With?

The action that you’ll need to take will depend on the nature of the property and we will advise you of all your legal obligations to help make the process straightforward for you.

If there is a property to sell, the house will need to be valued and the House Deeds located initially. It is the Personal Representative’s duty to ensure the house sells for its market value. Our professional conveyancing team provide a personal service and can work with you on your property sale to ensure you get the right price for it and the transaction is as stress-free as possible, from start to finish.

If the house was left in Trust in the Will, this often means a named beneficiary is entitled to live in the house rent-free for life and then the share of the property passes to another named beneficiary upon their death. We can help you handle all the legal requirements of the process, including registering the beneficiary with the Land Registry.

If the house has been left to named beneficiaries, we can help with the legal transfer into those names.

While all the legal matters are being sorted, you should inform the property insurers if the house is currently unoccupied to ensure it continues to be insured.

Can Bartletts Solicitors Help With Probate & Estate Administration?

Yes, we can, and we have the experience and legal knowledge to provide the specialist guidance you need at this challenging and emotionally difficult time.

There is so much to think about during the first few weeks following the death of a loved one. Our solicitors will work with you, offering a professional yet friendly and considerate approach to ensure you’re able to fulfil all your legal obligations in the easiest and most convenient way.

For more information on our probate and estate administration services, or for legal guidance regarding your personal situation, please contact Bartletts Solicitors on Freefone 0800 988 3674 or email advice@bartletts.co.uk