When someone close to you dies somebody has to deal with their "estate". Our solicitors can help you at this time. A person's estate is considered to be made up of the money, property and any possessions they had at the time of their death. The process of Probate involves collecting in any money that is owed to the deceased, settling any debts payable from the estate (including any outstanding taxes and any Inheritance tax due on death) and dividing the estate amongst the respective beneficiaries.
All assets (including property) in an estate (expect jointly owned assets) will remain frozen, until the Probate Registry gives the authority (via a document know as a Grant of Representation) to the Personal Representative(s). These are the individual(s) nominated in your Will to act as the "Executor(s)". If you have no Will, then it is up to the most appropriate member of the family member to act on behalf of the estate - usually the main beneficiary under the Rules of Intestacy that govern entitlement when someone dies without a will.
If there is a Will then the estate will pass to the beneficiaries named in the Will. If there is no Will then the Rules of Intestacy will apply to establish who is entitled to the deceased's estate and in what amounts.
Whether you are an Executor or the next of kin, our lawyers can provide practical guidance to help you deal with the administration of someone's estate. We can help you determine the size of an estate for Probate and Inheritance Tax purposes. We can prepare an application for the Grant of Representation on your behalf and help you lodge the required forms with the relevant organisations to collect monies due to the estate and settle any outstanding debts.
We can arrange the transfer or sale of any assets held and work with our residential property team to handle the sale of any property or land owned by the deceased.
We can also advise you on ways to vary the terms of a deceased's will or intestacy (within two years of their death) to take advantage of tax planning schemes and long term care planning for the surviving spouse or partner.
Helen S Law is a member of the Society of Trusts and Estates (STEP) and a member of the Solicitors for the Elderly group with particular expertise in these areas of the Law.