The death of a loved one is always a difficult time, but if it is followed by responsibility for dealing with estate administration and probate, it can be even more stressful and upsetting.
It is advisable to instruct a solicitor to deal with handling the estate, unless the financial affairs of the person who has died are very simple, and the amount of money involved is small.
In order to collect assets, sell property and wind up an estate, where there is a Will, you will usually need to obtain a Grant of Probate from court which confirms the executor’s legal authority to manage the estate and deal with banks and building societies.
Where there is no valid Will, a court can appoint other people to take on a similar role to Executors – but they have no authority to do anything until Letters of Administration have been applied for and are granted by a court.
If there is no Will, the beneficiaries of the estate will be determined by the Intestacy Rules, and it is only one (or more) of these beneficiaries who can apply to be appointed as an estate Administrator. If the person who died had a long term partner – but they were unmarried or not in a civil partnership – then this person cannot be the Administrator of the estate as they will not benefit under the Intestacy Rules. This is one reason why making a Will is so important.
If beneficiaries of a Will want to make an additional gift to someone not named in the Will, or a charity, a Deed of Variation may be the answer. This may avoid the payment of tax that would apply if the money was just gifted as a Deed of Variation allows the money to be treated as being left under the Will. But there are specific terms and conditions which apply to a Deed of Variation, making it essential to seek legal advice if you think this may be appropriate for your situation.
How we can help
At Else Solicitors, we have many years of experience in handling estates and can give you all the advice and support you need whether you are acting as an Executor or Administrator.
We can thoroughly explain the benefits to you of Deeds of Variation and guide you through the necessary processes, whether that is applying for Grant of Probate or for Letters of Administration.
Our aim is to take away the stresses and uncertainties that can arise at this difficult time and offer a personal and sympathetic service tailored to your needs.
We can help with other issues that might arise, such as negotiations on your behalf with the tax office and the preparation of estate accounts and tax returns.
Our charges will be clear and transparent and include written estimates of our costs from the outset.