Mackarness & Lunt have specialists who deal with the affairs of the deceased with understanding and compassion. We regularly handle probate applications and the winding up of estates.As long established solicitors we have a trusted network of fellow professionals who can assist you. Our contacts include valuers, land experts, house clearance companies and removal firms.
So what happens when someone dies and the time has come to put the Will into effect?
A Will appoints Executors who will deal with the administration of the estate and put the Will into effect. They are responsible for finding out about the assets and liabilities in the estate. Once these are known and any inheritance tax forms have been completed and filed (if applicable), an application is made for the Grant of Probate. This is a document issued by the High Court and it gives the Executors authority to deal with the estate of the person who has died.
Once the Executors have the Grant, they can close bank accounts, sell shares or property and pay the funeral account and any other liabilities there may be. The Executors can settle the tax affairs of the person who has died.
The Will may provide for legacies to be paid to individuals or charities. The Executors will pay these. The remainder of the estate (the Residuary Estate) can then be paid to the Residuary Beneficiaries.
Updating of Wills – it is essential that during lifetime Wills are checked and updated to ensure there are as tax efficient as possible.
If someone does not leave a Will (they have died intestate), the procedure for dealing with the estate is similar, although it can be more complicated. The rules of intestacy state who will deal with the administration of the estate and who benefits from it.
When there is no Will, an Administrator deals with the administration. The Administrator will be responsible for finding out about the assets and liabilities in the estate. A Grant will need to be obtained but in this case it is called a Grant of Letters of Administration.
The estate will then be administered in a similar way to a person who has left a Will – the monies are gathered in and any bills paid. The residuary estate will then pass to those relatives who are entitled to the estate, or if there are no relatives, then the estate will pass to the Crown.
It can be very difficult to trace relatives who could benefit from an estate where there is no Will. Mackarness and Lunt have connections with specialist genealogists who can be employed to trace the family tree of a person so that all possible beneficiaries are found.
When someone dies without a Will, their estate may pass to people whom they would not have wanted to benefit. To avoid this, Mackarness & Lunt can assist you to ensure you have a properly drawn Will in place. If under a Will you become entitled to part or all of an inheritance you do not require, and would have preferred part or all of that inheritance to have passed to other person(s) of your own choice, we can advise you how to achieve this by signing a Deed of Variation.
Our guidance can help mitigate tax risks and personal liabilities. If you need help or would like further information please contact Michael Parr or Sarah Baker.