When a friend or loved one passes away leaving a Will which appoints someone to administer their estate (executor), and that executor must dispose of the assets of the deceased, the estate will first pass through probate. This involves the executors proving who they are and that the authorities accepting that the deceased left a valid Will.
However, if the deceased did not leave a Will, or their Will is invalid or incomplete in some way, administrators must be appointed, who perform a similar role to an executor. Where there are no instructions in a Will, the administrators must distribute the estate of the deceased according to rules laid down by law (the intestacy rules).
Certain assets fall outside the estate for administration purposes. The most common example is a property jointly owned by two people. When a person dies, the property passes into the sole name of the survivor. Other examples include discretionary death benefits from pension funds, accounts with certain financial institutions subject to a nomination, and the proceeds of life insurance policies which have been written into trust. Trust property also frequently falls outside of the estate but this depends on the terms of the trust.
We offer a full range of estate administration services. This is regardless of whether or not we have prepared the Will of the deceased, and we do not encourage clients to appoint us as executors of their Will.
However, in all but the simplest of cases the paperwork can be challenging especially with completing the inheritance tax forms and claiming the transferable / residence nil rate bands for example. People who have been entrusted with the task of carrying out the last wishes of a loved-one often need some help to tie up their affairs. This can range from a simple meeting to discuss how they go about obtaining probate, to the need to undertake some post-death tax planning by way of an instrument of variation.
You can choose whether to pay a fixed fee for our services; or a percentage of the estate; or an hourly rate: we will advise you as to what is likely to be the most cost-effective path for you to take.
Our aim is to assist, and not control; whilst ensuring that the affairs of the deceased are managed compassionately and correctly.