It can be daunting when faced with the responsibility of a loved one dying but there are some things you need to do as soon as you are able.
These are the steps you need to go through:
Immediate tasks to complete after a death
- Notify the family doctor: Immediately
- If the death was unexpected, request an ambulance: Immediately
- The paramedics will be able to advise whether they think the police should be called but if you suspect the death is unnatural, contacting them immediately ay help in any investigation. Contact a funeral director to make funeral arrangements: As soon as you feel ready
- Register the death at the local registry office: Within five days of death
Tasks to complete one to two weeks after a death
Locate the Will and Notify the Executors
Do not assume that the first Will or first copy you find is the most recent. Wills can be revoked or amended by codicil at any time without the original being marked. You should carry out as extensive a probate search as you are able. If the Will is more than a few years old, contains gifts to people who have already died or there is other reason to believe a newer Will has been made, speak to us about the enquiries we can make on your behalf.
The executors of the Will derive their powers from that Will (even before the grant) and anyone attempting to deal with the estate incur upon themselves the responsibilities of an executor, even if later they find out they are not the executors of the most recent will.
Seek Legal Advice
If you can find no Will it is important for the next of kin to seek legal advice. Aside from making all necessary investigations to protect yourself against the possibility that a Will does exist, the rules governing who is entitled to administer the estate are not straightforward. Where there is no immediate family, or the family is dispersed, it is even more important to investigate the full circumstances.
Ascertain Details of Assets and Liabilities
Collect together any papers and other details you can find relating to their assets and liabilities. This includes bank and building society accounts in their or joint names, their account details and relevant information about any pensions and other money they may be receiving as well as any money that may be owing to utilities, credit cards or mortgage providers. Consider asking for any credit or debit cards to be frozen until probate is granted. Utility companies and the local council tax department will need to be told.
Collect Identification Documents
Locate and secure any personal ID documents such as passports or driving licences. Consider whether there are any passwords you need to secure online information. If you cannot find the passwords, you may need to notify the company to gain access to personal accounts for sites such as Facebook or Gmail.
Establish Whether Probate is Needed
A note should be made immediately as to whether it is likely that inheritance tax is payable and, if so, the deadline.
(see FAQ #4).
Notify the Building Insurers
Contact the building insurers if the deceased owned a house or flat, so that insurance is not invalidated. If the house were burgled or damaged during the probate period and the executors have not ensured cover is maintained, they can be personally liable.
Identify Specific Items Left to People
Identify any specific items left to people within the Will and consider whether these need to be removed and safeguarded. Will the house be cleared by professionals? Do any carers, delivery drivers, agents, friends or others have access to the house? Remember that not everyone will know what is in the Will and may have been told something different. Ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure the Will is complied with.
Identify Other People's Property if Possible
It may not be readily identifiable but some people may have brought home property or information that belongs to their workplace or may have been lent items by others.
Secure the Estate
Consider changing the locks and securing the property against squatters and other unauthorised entry.
- Notify the Relevant Parties
- Notify the deceased's employer and other parties.
- What Are the Executors' Duties?
It is the executors (where there is a Will) and the administrators (where there is no Will) who are responsible for collecting in the assets of the person who has died. They are responsible for using the estate funds to pay their debts and liabilities and ultimately to distribute the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will or (if there is no Will) in accordance with the statutory rules.
Contact our Probate Lawyers
Our team of probate lawyers and accountants offer a friendly, efficient and comprehensive service. We take care of every detail, saving you stress and giving you time when you need it most. Call us to speak to a lawyer today on 0845 034 7344 or contact us via our online contact form.