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Posted by : Administrator on 2020-07-28
Posted by : Administrator on 2020-07-21
Article written by Zoe Fleming Head of Wills, Probate and Trusts
“ The problems with DIY probate “
When someone dies there are many things to do , often at a time of personal crisis . I am frequently asked what probate means. Probate is the process of sorting out someone’s financial affairs after they have died. This includes registering the death and organising the funeral as well as dealing with a house sale or transfer of property. There are also matters to be dealt with at the bank, potentially with an employer or with a pension . Equally there may still be outstanding taxes or debts , for example a mortgage that needs to be paid. A ‘Grant of Probate’ is a legal document which confirms that the executor has the authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets .
It is still possible to do all this yourself. However there are cases which are not straightforward and require sophisticated legal advice. It may be difficult to find a will, or find any people who are mentioned in will which is particularly important to prevent someone challenging the will when they show up months after everything has been settled ! Sometimes the wording of a will is unclear and in these cases it is sensible to take legal advice before progressing the estate.
There is also a responsibility to clear out and sell a property and ensure that the best price is achieved for the beneficiaries. If one of the beneficiaries is a charity, the charity may challenge the sale price of the house if they think it was sold for less than market value. It may be necessary to trace the deceased ‘s pension and bank accounts, including dormant accounts, and obtain historic bank statements to check transactions and ascertain whether the deceased has made any gifts which need to be reported to HMRC. It is important to know what to do when handling the sale of shares , or when there is any increase in the value of the deceased’s property during the administration, particularly when capital gains tax may be an issue. This leads to the most difficult aspect of the administration which is dealing with questions from HMRC and potentially raising funds to pay tax. One of the most risky parts of a probate is making sure that all debts and liabilities are settled before any money is distributed to a beneficiary. This is not only debts incurred during the administration, it is also debts that the deceased may have incurred and in some cases have not been brought to light until after death . If this is done wrong , the person handling the estate may be personally liable and risk having to pay the financial shortfall themselves.
Estate administration is a lengthy process , and can sometimes create friction between family members. One way to ease this is to appoint a solicitor to handle matters who will act impartially and independently. There are many complicating factors that a solicitor would look out for, for example paperwork is often handled incorrectly by a “DIY-er” resulting in assets being overlooked, the wrong amount of tax being paid or disgruntled beneficiaries litigating against the person dealing with the estate. Often it is quicker to use a solicitor , for example a deceased’s bank can liaise with a firm of solicitors to get a bank account closed with the minimum of fuss.
We are here to give impartial advice and to help you through the process . We have a team of trained professionals who know the pitfalls when dealing with estate administrations.
Call 0800 294 4410 and speak to one of the team.
Posted by : Administrator on 2020-06-25
The days following the death of a loved one are unimaginably stressful. Bereaved people just want to concentrate on grieving, and looking after the hearts and minds of other devastated family members.
Most of the formalities can wait. However, there are a few things that can’t, and to help you we have put together a list of the most important things you, or a relative or friend must do during the first few days following a death:
Register the death –In England and Wales, this must be done at a Registry Office within 5 days of the death - and that includes weekends and bank holidays. The Bereavement Advice Centre (www.bereavementadvice.org tel: 0800 6349494) have useful advice about what to take to the appointment and who can register the death. Make sure you obtain enough copies of the death certificate, to be able to send them to banks and asset holders, which need to know about the death – It is not unusual to need at least 10 copies.
Find the last Will – The Will might contain funeral directions, so it is essential that this is found before the funeral. People usually keep copies of their Will with their financial documents.
If the original Will is kept at a Solicitors office, only the Executor will be able to obtain the original, or a copy, and he/she will be asked to produce ID to be able to collect it.
If you are unsure of the whereabouts of the last Will, telephone all the solicitors local to the last address of the deceased person, otherwise contact Certainty, the National Will Registration Service on 0330 1003660 - they may be able to help with searches.
Insure the House and contents –The insurance policy which belonged to your relative will usually contain conditions – for example: that a claim will not be paid if you have not informed the insurer that the premises has been left empty for a certain period of time, so ring the company and make sure they are aware – they may insist on regular inspection and/or drainage of the central heating system.
The nearest relative or Executor may also wish to change the locks, to make sure the house, and it’s contents, are secure.
Tell Us Once Service – When you register the death, you will be given a pack containing the death certificates and a form for the ‘Tell Us Once Service’, this is very useful, as you can either post it or complete it online –and it informs all the main Government departments such as DWP of the death, relieving you of the need to write to every organisation.
Check your entitlement to benefits – a spouse or civil partner may be entitled to a lump sum of £2,500.00 plus £100.00 per month for 18 months – ring the Bereavement Service Helpline on 0800 731 0469 to find out more. You must make the claim within 3 months of death to receive full entitlement.
If your relative owned a house, or savings and investments, it is likely that a Grant of Probate (where there is a Will) or Letters of Administration (no Will) will be needed.
There is no rush for this, but if the estate is worth over a certain amount, Inheritance Tax would become due within 6 months of the date of death, and so the tax form containing details of the estate must be submitted to HMRC in plenty of time.
Please contact us if you need help on 0800 294 4410 to receive sympathetic expert advice from our Wills and Probate Team.
Article written by Joanne Fong (Wills, Probate and Trusts Solicitor)
Posted by : Administrator on 2020-04-09
In the current COVID-19 pandemic, a major concern for parties to a contract is whether their contractual obligations can be performed and if not, what the consequence of that is. Many commercial contracts will probably contain a force majeure clause but if they don’t, then the well established doctrine of frustration could instead apply.
Posted by : Administrator on 2020-04-03
There are a lot of matters on which we cannot be certain at the moment; when we will be able to see our family and friends again, when it will be safe for our children to return to school and for the vast majority of us when we will be able to return to work.
Posted by : Administrator on 2020-04-01
Paul Ridehalgh (Director/Solicitor in Dispute Resolution regularly deals with Prosecutions for the RSPCA and a case he dealt with was featured in their annual report:
RSPCA specialists found a huge variety of exotic animals being kept in near-derelict buildings as snow was falling. Although each species needs their own specialist diet and levels of heat, light and humidity, just as they do in the wild, inspectors found animals in dirty, freezing conditions, along with bones and carcasses.
Posted by : Administrator on 2019-09-18
When a relationship breaks down and comes to an end it is without a doubt one of the most stressful and upsetting experiences you will have to go through in your life and to make matters worse there is the added stress of having to deal with the home and shared assets that you once shared.
Unlike when a marriage breaks down the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 comes into play to help determine ownership of the matrimonial assets however, there is unfortunately no equivalent piece of legislation for unmarried couples.
For unmarried couples who share a home, ownership of the property and the items therein must be dealt with on the basis of pure property law and trust principles and working out who is legally entitled to claim what and how much can become complicated.
Business activities are continuing despite the Coronavirus situation though please be aware that we are operating with reduced staff levels and ask that you kindly bear with us during this difficult time. Click here to open our latest COVID-19 Risk Assessment.
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