Wednesday, April 17th, 2024
executing a will

Will Writing: What To Do When You Lose A Loved One

Welcome back to our series on Will writing. 

To summarise; we’ve teamed up with Manak Solicitors to bring you a 4-part blog series that aims to take away any confusion you may have when it comes to writing your Will and then executing a Will. 

Why are we doing this? 

Because a frightfully high of number of us in the UK (around 26 million adults) currently have no formal instructions post-death. 

If you didn’t catch the first blog or fancy a recap, read ‘Will Writing: Back To Basics’ where we covered the what, why and how of Wills. What is a Will? Why do you need one? How do you get started? 

This month, Nosheen Bukhari, Wills & Probate Director at Manak Solicitors, guides us through the steps you must take at the point when you lose loved one. Where do you start? 

 

wills and probate solicitor

 

“It isn’t the happiest topic to broach but writing a Will is something that every adult needs to think about. In the tragic event of someone’s passing, a well-structured Will can make the difficult time immediately afterwards slightly easier on their friends and family.

 

At Manak Solicitors, we approach the subject of will writing with an empathetic ear, years of experience and a drive to make the process as painless as possible for you and your loved ones.” – Nosh Bukhari, Manak Solicitors

 

The legalities of losing a loved one

When you lose a loved one you are faced with emotional turmoil and heartache. On top of managing your grief, there are protocols and procedures that must be followed. Even if the death was expected, it can still feel like a daunting task to have to deal with the legal side of someone’s passing, especially when your head isn’t in the right place. At this point, it is worth knowing about the different places where you can seek bereavement support, such as:

 

Here is a list of actions that must now take place. Of course, this is just a general overview of the steps and stages – each individual case will differ so ensure you do your research or seek advice if needed.

 

will writing with solicitor

 

Register the death

By law (in England) you have 5 days to register the death. This is very important as it’s a criminal offence if you don’t. You can do this via the Government website here.

Notify the official bodies and relevant parties

The government operates a Tell Us Once service which will inform all of the relevant government bodies, such as HMRC, DVLA and the Passport Office.

You will also need to inform relevant organisations such as employer, carers, banks, utility companies, landlord, insurance companies, TV/internet provider, subscriptions etc.

Depending on your relationship to the deceased, you may find that you are eligible to claim financial help via bereavement benefits. You may also need to address your own tax and pension situation too as these could change.

Arranging the funeral

Once the death is registered and death certificate is received, you will be able to approach the funeral directors to begin organising the funeral. There could be arrangements in place already, such as prepaid funeral plans or life insurance. The Testator/Testatrix (the person who has made the Will) may have included funeral wishes in their Will. Citizen’s Advice have some useful information on this here.

Instruct a solicitor

Solicitors, such as Manak, are here to ease the burden by dealing with the legal and practical aspects of the estate administration. Nosh says, “we hope we can assist in making this difficult time a little easier by dealing with your loss in an empathetic and holistic way.” Naturally, some estates are more complex than others and the legal expertise and experience from a solicitor can be invaluable. There can sometimes be unforeseen issues that complicate matters, such as disputes, bankruptcy, assets overseas etc. 

Not to mention that using a solicitor can take a huge mental load off you at what is an unsettling and overwhelming time.

 

Working with your chosen solicitor as an executor

An executor is the person named in the Will who deals with the administration of the estate. It is almost the most important role as it’s ultimately their responsibility to ensure the deceased’s wishes are carried out.

The executor will have been chosen explicitly by the deceased as somebody they trusted and are close to. For this reason, it’s most likely that – if you are the executor – you will be aware of your role and have access to the Will. This isn’t always the case and there are services that can track down Wills.

The first duty of an executor is to find out what the deceased’s assets and liabilities are and to deal with the inheritance tax position with HMRC.

Next is to apply for a Grant of Probate. This provides the executor with the legal authority to deal with the estate and administer it in accordance with the Will. Your solicitor can walk you through the process or even apply for probate on your behalf.

Once the liabilities have been paid and the assets liquidated (e.g. property sold, investments cashed in, claiming life insurance, paying off debts and taxes etc.), distribution can take place to the beneficiaries under the Will.

The whole process can take up to 12 months and you may need to deal with the income tax and capital gains tax positions too. Your solicitor will provide you with finalised estate accounts setting out all the financial transactions that have taken place during the administration period.

In the event of ‘intestacy’, when the deceased has passed away without a Will, their next of kin can apply for Letters of Administration but there are distinct rules as to how the estate passes and to whom. We will cover this in a later blog.

 

executing a will

 

Jargon Busting – navigating the legal lingo

 

Executor/Executrix: the individual named in the Will who deals with the administration of the estate.

 

Beneficiary: the person/people who benefit from the estate

 

Inheritance Tax: a tax that is paid on an individual’s estate if their estate value is above a certain amount but some exemptions can be applied.

 

Grant of Probate: the Court document that proves the executor has authority to deal with the estate

 

Letters of Administration: the grant that is obtained when someone passes without a Will.

 

Trust: this may be present in the Will and needs to be set up or dismantled if required.

 

Deed of Variation: Where a Will is changed by agreement of all parties within 2 years of the Deceased’s passing.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Executors

 

Q: Can an executor also be a beneficiary?
A: Yes

 

Q: What is the difference between an executor and a trustee?

A: An executor administers an estate, a trustee holds assets on trust for the benefit of others (e.g. minors)

 

Q: I don’t want my children to have to pay inheritance tax on my estate – is there anything I can do to mitigate this?

A: Yes, you will need to seek specialist advice

 

Q: I do not have a Will but assume all of my estate will pass to my spouse?

A: Not necessarily as intestacy rules will apply

 

Q: I did my Will a few years ago but my executors have predeceased me – does that mean my estate cannot be administered?

A: Not necessarily – we may be able to apply for Letters of Administration with Will annexed

 

Q: I am an executor under my friend’s Will, but I don’t want the responsibility – can I just ignore my appointment?

A: No, you can either relinquish your role, have power reserved to yourself or instruct a solicitor to deal with the estate on your behalf.

 

Q: As an executor do I have a responsibility to carry out thorough research in respect of the deceased assts including the gifts they have made in the 7 years prior to passing?

A: Yes

 

 

Getting in touch with Nosh and the team at Manak Solicitors

Visit the website.

Email: info@manaksolicitors.co.uk

Phone: 01732 207 207

46 London Road
Sevenoaks
Kent
TN13 1AS

Outside of Sevenoaks, Manak also has offices in Orpington, Gravesend and The Shard.

 

“Nosheen is a diligent worker who really cares about her clients and is prepared to go the extra mile for them. She fully explains the options to when providing legal advice to ensure that they are fully advised. I would recommend Nosheen to anyone who has a will or probate matter they would like to discuss.”

 

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