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Practical tips for Estate Administration – part one

23.07.20

Welcome to our new Estate Administration blog series. We often do not realise how many practical tasks there are to consider when someone dies until we find ourselves responsible for making the funeral arrangements, or helping someone to do this. During this emotional and distressing time, it can be difficult working out what to do and in what order.

We have designed the series to provide easy to understand, practical advice to help get you started with all aspects of dealing with your loved one’s estate.  Over the course of this series on estate administration, we will be covering key issues including:

  • Organ Donation
  • Registering the death
  • Finding the Will
  • Arranging the funeral
  • Dealing with the Estate
  • Keeping the peace between family members when someone dies

Key terms

In part one of this blog, we thought it would be helpful to start with a summary of the key terms that apply in the process of estate administration:

Personal Representative: Umbrella term for the person dealing with an Estate

Executor: Someone appointed in a Will to manage the Estate. If more than one executor has been appointed in the Will they must apply together or provide evidence that they are unable to act or formally renounce the position.

Administrator: Someone dealing with an Estate under intestacy rules, where there is no Will. The right to act as an Administrator depends on the relationship with the deceased and being first in priority in the classes of relationship. The order of priority in cases of intestacy is explained here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1987/2024/article/22/made. Where the deceased left a Will  but it is ineffective in some way, for example if the Executor is unable to act, the priority for the correct administrator is slightly different and is explained here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1987/2024/article/20/made

Grant of Probate: Formal legal document providing evidence of an Executor’s right to deal with the deceased’s Estate

Grant of Letters of Administration: Formal legal document providing evidence of an Administrators right to deal with the deceased’s Estate.

Grant of Letters of Administration with Will Annexed: Formal legal document providing evidence of an Administrator’s right to deal with the deceased’s Estate where there is Will but which is defective in some way.

Organ donation

Every day someone in the UK dies in need of an organ, but only 1% of people die in circumstances that would allow them to donate their organs.

The process around organ donation changed in the UK on 20 May 2020. Consent to organ donation is now presumed for all eligible adults unless they have opted out. Families of anyone eligible to donate will still be consulted on organ donation and supported by a specialist nurse at the hospital.

Families often find great comfort during a difficult time in knowing they are following the wishes of their loved one and from the knowledge their loved one may be helping another person. For this reason, we would encourage everyone to register their wishes on organ donation and also advise their family of their wishes. This can provide clarity to your loved ones and make one of the difficult decisions they need to make a bit easier. You can register your decision here: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-your-decision/

When is a Grant of Probate required?

A Grant is not required to transfer ownership of assets such as jointly held bank accounts or property owned jointly as joint tenants. These assets pass automatically outside of the deceased’s Will or intestacy to the surviving joint owner. The survivor will need to provide evidence of death to the bank concerned and/or to HM Land Registry by completing form DJP available here.

Other assets such as life policies or pension benefits may be ‘nominated’ and will pass to the person chosen by the deceased and a Grant will not be required to deal with these.

Banks, building societies and other financial institutions have their own policies on when they will deal with Personal Representatives and release the assets without a formal Grant. Unfortunately, there are no uniform rules or requirements and the Personal Representative will need to check with each institution.

Even where a formal Grant is not required it may be sensible to obtain one. For example, where a widow inherits and a Grant is not required to transfer the assets it may be desirable to have a formal record of the value of the estate passing to the survivor and to others due to reliefs from Inheritance Tax which can be claimed upon the death of the survivor.

Whether or not a formal Grant is necessary, there are lots of practical steps that need to be taken when dealing with an Estate.

Coming up in the series

In the remainder of the blog series, we will look at;

What to do when someone dies
What needs to be done and when can seem very confusing at an emotional time. This blog piece will give advice on registering the death, arranging the funeral, locating the Will, who to contact and preserving assets.

Inheritance Tax and Applying for Grant
This will cover how to value assets for the Inheritance Tax Account, completing the Account and applying for Grant of Probate.

Keeping the Peace when someone dies
Dealing with someone’s Estate is an emotional time for many family members and it can lead to tensions in families. This blog piece will give some tips and advice for Personal Representatives trying to keep the peace between families.

We hope this blog series is a useful guide during a difficult time. However, it is important to remember that every circumstance is different so the process may vary. If you would like help in the steps you need to take or assistance with the Estate Administration, then please do get in touch.

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