What Happens When I Die?
If the person who has died leaves a will, it will usually name one or more people to act as the executors of the will – that is, to administer their estate. If you are named as an executor of a will you may need to apply for a grant of probate.
A grant of probate is an official document which the executors may need to administer the estate. It is issued by a section of the court known as the probate registry. If there is no will (known as dying intestate) the process is more complicated.
The Administration of Estates Act 1925 sets out who can act as administrator – that is, who has the legal right to deal with the affairs of the person who has died. The administrator will usually be a close relative of the person who has died, if there is one. There may be more than one person who has an equal right to do this. Anyone who has the right to do so can apply to the probate registry for a grant of letters of administration. This is an official document, issued by the court, which allows administrators to administer the estate.
In some cases, for example, when the person to benefit is a child, the law says that more than one person must act as an administrator.
How can we help?
Whether there is a will or not, Martyn Prowel Solicitors can assist you in completing the necessary paperwork. We can do as much or as little as you want, depending on your circumstances and the complexity of the deceased’s estate.
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 or 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.
Other things that may affect the time taken are:
- whether the financial affairs of the person who died were in order
- what the person who died owned and where it is
- whether the person who died had an interest in a business or a farm
- what the will or the rules of intestacy say
- whether the beneficiaries under the will or the relatives of the person who died wish to consider a Deed of Variation
- whether there are any legal disputes (claims against the estate or claims by the estate)
- whether inheritance tax needs to be paid
- making sure that all HM Revenue & Customs files are closed and that matters relating to income tax, benefits agencies and pensions have been sorted out.
Arguments between family members, beneficiaries or personal representatives can also delay matters. Any disagreements must be sorted out before the affairs of the person who died can be settled.