Do I need legal advice after the loss of a loved one?
Jan 18, 2017
Deciding whether you need to see a solicitor after someone you love dies is really up to you, but there are many reasons why you may want to.
There are a number of steps you’ll need to go through after a family member or loved one dies and some of these may be easier if you use a solicitor.
The first step is to find their Will, depending on whether they made one or not. Statistics say that only 30% of the population have actually made a Will, and even fewer people have made sure it’s still up to date, so there are no guarantees.
Hopefully, your relative or loved one has told you exactly where to find their Will when they die. If they’ve told you where to find their Will, you may also know who is named in the Will as Executor.
The Executor has the legal right to execute the Will, unless they choose not to. This could be for a number of reasons but you may decide, as next of kin, that you’d like a solicitor to complete this part for you.
In some circumstances, you’ll also need to obtain a Grant of Probate to allow you to access your loved one’s estate. Each financial institution sets its own rules about how much money an Executor can access without a Grant of Probate. This can be as little as £5,000 or as much as £25,000.
If the estate includes property, you’ll need a Grant of Probate regardless of access to bank accounts.
In order to obtain a Grant you will need to know the value of the estate and if necessary pay any inheritance tax due.
Once the Grant of Probate has been obtained there are more steps to complete. You’ll have to:
- collect any money owed to the estate
- pay any outstanding debts
- distribute the estate according to the Will
This may seem like a lot of work, and from an administration perspective, it is. Many people who are bereaved find this long and drawn out process too much to take on and they ask a solicitor to complete the estate administration process, often known as Probate.
If there is no Will, the law decides how your loved one’s estate is distributed. These laws are called the rules of intestacy. These rules are very rigid and will not provide for unmarried partners or step-children unless they were formally adopted, which is why leaving a Will is so important.
A next of kin must apply for a grant of representation to become the administrator of the estate. The administrator will apply the rules of intestacy to decide who inherits from the estate. This can be complicated, but a good probate solicitor can help you with this.
If you are an executor or administrator you are legally responsible for making sure that the Will is executed properly and if you make a mistake, you could be held financially responsible.
If you are worried, or you’d like to discuss your options about Probate or making a Will for yourself, please call our experienced and professional Wills and Probate Team on 01264 353411, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help.
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