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BLOG: Dealing with a bereavement – practical things you need to do

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Millie Gordon breaks down the difficult steps of what to do if someone dies.

The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult times many of us will have to overcome, and during current circumstances, the process can present more challenges and you may find yourself wondering where to begin.

Where to begin

  1. The most important initial step after a bereavement is to register the death. At present, you are able to do this over the telephone by booking an appointment with your local registrar. Death certificates will then be posted out to you. Many banks and other bodies will require sight of an original death certificate, so make sure you order enough death certificates to make it easier to provide these and keep some spare.
  2. Inform government bodies such as HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions. When you receive some death certificates, you should receive some information on using the ‘Tell Us Once’ service, using this service will inform several government institutions at once
  3. Check to see if the deceased made a Will. Some people include funeral instructions within their Wills or store wishes with their Wills
  4. Arrange the funeral

If you believe your loved one made a Will which is stored with us at Morecrofts, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will discuss any options you may have. Please note that before discussing the contents of another person’s Will, we will need to have sight of a death certificate and be satisfied that we are speaking with the executor as they are the person who will be legally entitled to deal with the administration of an estate.

What Comes Next?

Millie GordonAfter you have arranged for the funeral, the administration of an estate can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Check to see if you need to apply for Probate. Some assets will require what’s called a Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration where the deceased did not leave a Will) before they are able to close down accounts.

A common misconception is that you do not need to apply for a Grant of Probate if the deceased left a valid Will, but in many circumstances, this is not the case. You should be able to contact banks and other institutions to determine if they will require a Grant of Probate or not. This will vary both on the bank involved and the value of the account so check with all asset providers.

If the deceased owned a property in their sole name, or owned it with another person as tenants in common, you will need a Grant of Probate to deal with this property.

  1. Apply for a Grant of Probate. Executors and administrators can apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration themselves, or they can instruct solicitors to deal with this on their behalf. We offer a range of services in assisting clients with applying for probate and dealing with an administration of an estate.
  2. Collect in assets and pay any debts and other liabilities. Once you have obtained the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (if you need one), you will be able to collect the deceased’s assets and ensure that any outstanding bills are paid out of these funds
  3. Distribute the estate in accordance with the Will or in accordance with the rules of intestacy where there is no Will

You can find out more details on Wills, probate and other private client services in this section of our website.

Key definitions

Grant of Probate – The document provided once you have submitted an application to the Probate Registry along with the original Will which ensures that a person is legally entitled to deal with the administration of an estate and is distributing the assets to the correct beneficiaries. This will state the deceased’s name, address and date of death, along with the executor’s details and value of the deceased’s estate.

Letters of Administration – This is similar to a Grant of Probate, but this document is provided where there is no Will. Instead of an executor, there will be an administrator. Who the administrator is will be governed by the intestacy rules

Intestacy –  This occurs when a person dies but leaves no Will, so no document to say who should deal with the estate and who should benefit. The rules give a list of relatives in order of who will benefit first – starting with the deceased’s spouse, children, parents and so on. These rules can be complicated to follow especially if the deceased’s estate is over the value of £270,000.

For more information on intestacy, click here see our blog post by Solicitor Kate McEvoy on the increase of the Legacy for Partners.

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