You don’t need to enlist professional help when someone dies but an experienced solicitor can greatly assist in dealing with the deceased’s affairs promptly, properly and with the minimum of fuss.
Obviously when someone close to you passes away you will be upset and you may find it hard to know what to do. Here are a few points to guide you.
Firstly you will need to ascertain whether there is a Will. You should check through the deceased’s papers or contact their solicitor to see if they hold a Will. If there is a Will then the person named as executor in the Will can give instructions about the estate. If there is no Will a Petition will often require to be lodged in court to have someone, usually the closest relative, appointed as executor. A solicitor will be able to advise you.
Once you have clarified the position regarding the Will you should arrange to meet with your solicitor. You should take to that meeting the Death Certificate, the original Will if available, title deeds to the deceased’s property, again if available, together with any paperwork that confirms or gives a clue to what assets and debts the deceased may have had.
Thereafter, in most cases you will need to apply to court for what is called Confirmation. This is necessary if there is heritable property in the estate or if there are bank accounts and investments of around more than £10,000-£15,000 held with a single asset holder. To get Confirmation your solicitor has to prepare a detailed list of everything the deceased owned with values as at date of death. This list of assets is then signed by the executor together with the deceased’s Will (if there is one) and HMRC papers. These documents will then be lodged at Court in order to obtain Confirmation.
If there is no Will then a solicitor can apply to court to have an executor appointed. This is usually a spouse or child but anyone entitled to the estate can be named. If you need Confirmation and there is no Will then it is necessary to get a Bond of Caution (except if the spouse is inheriting the whole estate) which is a type of insurance policy to protect the estate from any wrong doings by the executor. You may find it difficult to get a Bond of Caution unless a solicitor is dealing with that for you.
Once Confirmation has been granted by Court this can be used to sell or transfer title to any heritable property owned by the deceased and it will enable banks, building societies, insurance companies etc to release monies.
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