Lost a loved one over Christmas, and wondering what you do next?
Posted on 11th December 2019 at 09:10
The death of a loved one is a difficult time even before you start thinking about dealing with their financial affairs and the administration of their estate. A lot of people may not have been involved with dealing with an “estate” before and the many legal terms can be confusing.
1. Register the death with the Registrar of Deaths. You will need the Certificate of Death which you will usually get from the doctor or hospital.
2. Arrange the funeral in accordance with any funeral wishes in the Will or any Letter of Wishes left with the Will or amongst personal possessions.
3. Most banks will release funds to pay for the funeral before Probate is granted on production of the funeral account from the Funeral Directors.
4. Examine the contents of the Will to determine who the Executor or Executors are (ie who is legally entitled to administer the estate and deal with the Deceased’s affairs).
5. If there is no Will then the Laws of Intestacy dictate who will inherit the estate and the law states who can apply to administer the Deceased’s estate.
6. What if an Executor named in the Will has died or is unable or unwilling to act? – An Administrator can be appointed to carry out the terms of the Will. There are strict rules as to the who can be an Administrator but this will normally be those entitled to inherit the estate. An Executor may appoint an Attorney to carry out the role of Executor for them or an Attorney under a Lasting Power of Attorney may be able to act in their place.
7. Make sure you notify the house insurers of the death. This is particularly important if the house will be unoccupied as a result of the death as the insurers could impose conditions on the insurance such as keeping the heating on over the winter months and inspecting the property every 2 weeks or so. Remove valuables from an unoccupied property if possible.
Ascertaining the Assets and Liabilities in the Estate
1. In order to apply for Probate you will need a list of assets and liabilities as at the date of death.
2. Ensure any life insurance policies and death in service benefits or pension benefits are claimed.
3. A professional valuation of any property, land or business assets is likely to be required and it may be necessary to obtain a professional valuation of jewellery, antiques etc
4. It might be useful to look at the Deceased’s last income tax return to help ascertain details of what they owned and pensions etc.
5. Consider if any lifetime gifts need to be declared on the Inheritance Tax Return. Gifts under £3,000 per year are usually exempt but larger gifts may need to be accounted for. Gifts include not only cash gifts but gifts of property or sales at an undervalue.
Applying for Probate
1. The inheritance Tax needs to be paid before Probate is granted unless it is being paid by instalments which is only possible in relation to property or certain other assets.
2. Paying Inheritance Tax – the bank will usually release funds from the Deceased’s bank account to pay the Inheritance Tax but if there are insufficient funds then the executors may need to take out a loan.
3. When completing the Inheritance Tax return it is important that the available Inheritance Tax reliefs are claimed to ensure the correct amount of Inheritance Tax is paid.
4. Every individual has a Nil Rate band for Inheritance Tax which is currently £325,000 and the Deceased’s Executors can also claim the Transferable Nil Rate Band if the Deceased inherited from their spouse or Civil Partner.
5. The Executors may also need to claim the Residence Nil Rate Band and the Transferable Residence Nil Rate Band which can mean that a married couple or a couple in a Civil Partnership can pass down £1 million free of Inheritance Tax if certain conditions are met.
6. Consider Business Property Relief and Agricultural Property Relief if relevant.
7. The Executors will need to sign a Statement of Truth stating that all the assets and liabilities in the estate have been declared.
Collecting in and Distributing Assets
1. Once Probate has been granted the Executors will need to collect in all the assets in the estate ie close down bank accounts, sell or transfer properties and investments etc.
2. The Executors may want to consider placing Trustee Act Notices to protect them from unknown claims against the estate and also the possibility of claims by disappointed beneficiaries under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act before distributing the estate.
3. All liabilities in the estate will need to be paid.
4. All beneficiaries in the estate will need to be identified and if the Deceased died Intestate (ie without a Will) then a Genealogist may need to be instructed to trace the entitled beneficiaries.
5. It may be advisable to do Bankruptcy Searches on beneficiaries before distributing assets to protect the Executors.
Tax, Trusts and Other Matters
1. Income Tax for the period before the date of death and during the administration period needs to be dealt with and the necessary tax calculated and paid.
2. Capital Gains Tax – consider appropriating assets to beneficiaries first before selling if a gain during the administration period.
3. The administration period is the period from the date of death until the administration of the estate is completed.
4. Inheritance Tax Clearance – the Executors should obtain Inheritance Tax Clearance from HMRC before distributing the estate if the estate is taxable.
5. If there are any trusts in the Will then these will need to be set up and assets transferred to Trustees and the appropriate registrations made if appropriate.
Contact our team on 0113 2007480.
Tagged as: Wills, Probates & Trusts
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