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10 Important Things To Do Following The Death Of A Loved One 26 May 2015

"Losing a loved one is never easy and the first few weeks are often the most emotionally draining. Although there is a great deal to think about, our list of the most important 10 Things To Do should hopefully make matters a little easier for you at this difficult time." says Chorlton Partner Paul Hannam                     

1. Will or No Will?

The first thing you need to do is establish whether your loved one wrote a Will.

2. Find the Will

It's important to find the original Will, if there is one. This will detail all that your loved one wanted to be done with his or her estate. If there is no Will, the Rules of Intestacy will dictate how the estate is handled.

3. Apply for Grant of Representation

You need to apply for this in order to begin distributing the estate. If there is a Will, this application is called a Grant of Probate. If there is no Will, this is called a Grant of Letters of Administration.

4. Follow the Will or Rules of Intestacy

At this stage, you should be able to start carrying out the expressed wishes within your loved one's Will. Alternatively, if there is no Will, your solicitor can help you understand the Rules of Intestacy and all they mean for you in terms of how the estate is to be distributed.

5. Tell organisations

There are numerous organisations that need to be made aware of your loved one's death, including insurance firms, pension providers and financial institutions. Most, if not all, will want to see an original Registrar's copy of the death certificate. This is something your solicitor can do for you if you'd prefer, as well as handle any subsequent correspondence too.

6. Pay Inheritance Tax

As an Executor of the Will or Administrator if there is no Will, you need to work out how much inheritance tax is owed on the estate and ensure it is paid.

7. Handle estate assets

As part of your role as Personal Representative (either Executor or Administrator), you need to handle all the assets of the estate. This includes bank accounts and any money in these as well as property. Depending on the type of property ownership and details of the Will or Rules of Intestacy, the property may need to be sold - your solicitor will be able to advise and support you with this process.

8. Settle estate debts

If there are any outstanding debts on the estate such as a mortgage or utility bill, these need to be paid.

9. Distribute estate

At this stage, you should be able to distribute the estate and give the particulars to the beneficiaries.

10. Any exceptions

As with all legal matters, there are sometimes exceptions to the rules and a Grant of Representation may not be needed. If your loved one has a surviving spouse or civil partner and assets were held jointly, or if there are minimal assets, this application may not be necessary. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on this matter.

For confidential advice and guidance on all matters relating to Wills and Probate, please contact our dedicated team in our Chorlton office on 0161 860 7123 or Failsworth office on 0161 681 4005.