The immediate aftermath of the death of a relative or friend can be a difficult time for everyone concerned. I have put together the following guide to some of the key steps to be taken immediately following the death of a loved one. Of course, the circumstances will be different in every case and the following is a guide only. For specialist advice please contact me or one of the team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Try not to panic. You have several days to deal with the initial formalities. Your first steps should be to:
- a. Register the death;
- b. Check the will (if any) for funeral wishes;
- c. Organise the funeral.
2 When you are ready, you can either contact a firm of Solicitors with a specialist Private Client Department to arrange a meeting or speak to your local Probate Registry for advice.
If you attend a law firm or the Probate Registry you will need to take with you:
- a. The original will;
- b. If there is no will, a family tree;
- c. An original death certificate;
- d. All papers relating to assets that belong to the person who has died, for example:
- i. Bank statements;
- ii. Building Society passbooks
- iii. Insurance policy details;
- iv. Share certificates;
- v. Title deeds;
- vi. Premium Bonds;
- vii. Pension details.
- e. A note of the person's National Insurance Number;
- f. Identification for yourself.
3 If you choose to instruct a legal advisor, they will write to all the people who hold assets on behalf of the deceased to ascertain the value of the assets at the date of death. This is called obtaining a probate valuation. They will also find out the value of any liabilities.
4 If it is necessary to obtain a grant of representation, such as a grant of probate or grant of letters of administration (see our Glossary) then the legal advisor will prepare the appropriate papers for signature by the Personal Representatives.
5 If there is any Inheritance Tax to pay, some or all of this may need to be paid at this point. A good legal advisor will talk to you about the options available to you for payment.
6 When the application for a grant of representation has been prepared and signed this is lodged at the Principal or District Probate Registry together with the appropriate fee. It will usually take between two and four weeks for the grant to be issued so things will go quiet during this period.
7 When the grant has been issued the Personal Representatives will be able to encash or transfer estate assets and pay any debts before paying out the remainder in accordance with the terms of the will, or the rules that apply if there is no valid will.