Probate Checklist – What to do when someone dies

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This simple guide to probate gives executors a helpful checklist on what to do when somebody dies.

Losing a loved one is a tough time. And, if you are appointed as an executor in the deceased’s will, you will have lots to do to arrange funerals, pay Inheritance Tax, and deal with the administration of their estate.

So, here we take a brief look at those broad things that you need to do when someone dies. Here is our simplified checklist of what to do when someone dies.

How do I Register a Death?

You’ll get a ‘certificate of burial’ to give to the funeral director, or an application for cremation which you need to complete and give to the crematorium

You can find out how to register a death in the government website https://www.gov.uk/register-a-death

How do I arrange a Funeral?

Simply choose the funeral directors you wish to use and they will hold your hand through the whole process.

How do I locate the Will?

Hopefully, the deceased will have told you they made a will and where it is? If they did, simply contact the solicitor involved and they will guide you through what is what.

Do I have to use a Solicitor for Probate?

No you don’t have to use a probate solicitor if you are the appointed executor under the terms of a will! However, if you are pushed for time, or simple unsure what you need to do as an executor, do remember that there is a lot to do with most estates, and a good probate solicitor will be doing this all day every day.

You CAN build your own house – but would you?!

Are Executors liable if they get something wrong?

Yes! Hence you may wish to use a probate solicitor to do the work for you. An executor is personally liable and they get the administration of the will wrong, beneficiaries can sue them!

What if there is no Will?

If there’s no will and you are the next of kin, you will be able to apply for what is called a grant of representation (‘letters of administration’) to deal with the deceased’s estate. It is just like probate – but for where there is no will. You have to prove that you are the person entitled to the estate under the rules of entitlement, and therefore the person also entitled to be given the letters of administration.

How do I tell Government bodies that someone has died?

Use the ‘Tell Us Once’ service to inform all the relevant government departments

Who do I need to tell that a loved one has died?

You should tell anyone and everyone that your loved one had contact with that they have died. As regards ‘assets’, this will include banks, utility companies, landlords or housing associations and insurance companies.

Executors have lots to do dealing with probate.

How does an executor value an estate?

The executors must establish the exact value of all assets and liabilities at the date of death. This is used to establish which probate process is needed, and also whether (and how much) IHT is due to paid by the executors.

Do I have to pay Inheritance Tax (IHT)?

Having established the value of the estate you can see how much (if any) IHT is needed to be paid. All IHT payable against assets other than houses must be paid upfront before you get probate!

What do I do once I have Probate?

Once an executor has probate, they must then ‘administer the estate’. This means:-

  • Pay any debts left by the deceased
  • Close accounts and release the money
  • Sell or transfer assets into the beneficiary(ies)’s names, such as property or shares
  • Pay the balance of any IHT
  • Pay any income tax or capital gains tax due on the estate
  • Report the estate value, income and tax liability to HMRC

Want our help with Probate?

If you are the appointed executor under the will of a loved one you do NOT have to have the help of a solicitor. However, a good probate solicitor can take all of the work and worry out of the process for the executors. Costs are agreed upfront between the probate solicitor and executor, and those fees are paid from the estate (not personally by the executor).

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