What to do when someone dies
When a loved one dies, and you are the next of kin, there are legal formalities that must be dealt with. Deborah Adams, head of private client department at Parnalls in Launceston explains what you should do.
Registering a death
Your first duty is to register the death. Either the next of kin or the executors appointed in your loved one’s will can do this. The hospital or doctor who confirmed the death will give you a medical certificate stating the cause of death. This certificate is in a sealed envelope which you must not open.
You will then need to telephone your local Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to make an appointment to register the death. The death must be registered closest to the place where the death occurred.
At the end of your appointment the registrar will give you the death certificate. It is a good idea to request a few copies of this to speed up the administration of your loved one’s estate. The registrar will also give you a form to be completed and sent to the Department for Work and Pensions and a certificate for burial or cremation for you to give to the funeral director.
Organising a funeral
The funeral arrangements can be made by anyone in the family or by the executors if your loved one made a will. Check personal papers to see if a will exists and if a pre-paid funeral plan has been arranged or if there are any specific funeral wishes.
Locating a will
If your loved one used a solicitor to prepare their will, the original version will usually be held by the firm of solicitors they used.
If the will was made a long time ago it is possible that the firm who prepared it may have changed name or merged with another firm. If in doubt the local law society may be able to help you track the firm down. Remember to check your loved one’s home, particularly if you think they may have prepared a DIY will.
If you know or suspect a will was made but you cannot find it, a solicitor can advise you on the steps you need to take to search for a missing will.
The executors have a duty to administer your loved one’s estate in accordance with their will. Although the will gives the executors the authority to deal with the deceased’s estate, they will need to apply for a court order called a ‘grant of probate’ to be able to dispose of the assets.
Many people find it easier to instruct a solicitor to administer the estate because it can be time consuming and complicated.
A grant of probate usually takes about three months, but the entire administration process can take up to a year to complete, even in simple cases. This is because government bodies such as the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs may also need to be involved.
Letters of administration
Where a will cannot be found the estate must be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. You will need to apply for a court order, similar to a grant of probate, called a ‘grant of letters of administration’. There is a strict order of priority as to who can apply for the grant of letters of administration.
Your solicitor will advise you on who inherits the estate and the order of entitlement when there is no will. The result may not always be what you expect. For instance, under the rules of intestacy, spouses often have to share their inheritance with children, step-children or parents-in-law.
Disputing a will
If you have concerns about the validity of a will, for example if you suspect it has been forged, tampered with or you are concerned whether it was made when your loved one was of sound mind, you should speak with a solicitor as soon as possible. If the will is found to be invalid for any reason, any previous will or the intestacy rules will apply.
Claiming financial provision
Certain relatives and people who were financially dependent on the deceased can claim additional funds from the estate if the will, or intestacy rules, do not adequately provide for them. If you wish to make such a claim, you should speak with a solicitor as soon as possible as strict time limits will apply.
Varying a will
If all the beneficiaries agree, the will or intestacy rules can be changed using a document called a ‘deed of variation’. This might be done for a variety of reasons. One reason is to give effect to an agreement reached between the beneficiaries following a dispute or claim. The usual reason, however, is to maximise the use of personal allowances to save inheritance tax. A deed of variation must be completed within two years of death.
For more information on getting probate, a grant of letters of administration or making a will, please contact Deborah Adams, head of private client department at Parnalls on 01566 772375 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Valuing an estate for probate
Do I need a cohabitation agreement?
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Planning, Construction & Development
Preparing to sell your Launceston property
The Need for Updating Wills
Debt recovery and how we can help
Claiming compensation for a serious road traffic accident
Residential Sale and Purchases
Information to gather for your probate solicitor
Accidents, Compensation & Personal Injury
What type of will do I need?
Had an Accident in Someone's Home?
Ten common debt recovery mistakes
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
The ultimate personal injury and accident claim checklist
Putting your legal affairs in order
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
10 reasons to appoint a Personal Injury solicitor
The risks of DIY probate
Does your lawyer progress your accident claim efficiently and provide you with a personal and professional service? Can I change solicitors for my accident claim?
Why you should always use a solicitor to prepare your will
Five problems with a leasehold property
Making a will when you retire
Buying your first home with a small deposit
Site assembly for commercial development
Meeting your conveyancing solicitor, what you need to prepare
Landlords’ options for enforcing commercial tenants’ obligations
Untangling Overseas Assets
KATHERINE FLASHMAN KITSON CELEBRATING 25 YEARS AS A DIRECTOR OF PARNALLS
Do you know the difference between…
When to consider appointing a professional attorney
Should I get a cohabitation agreement?
The Right to Make Noise
Ill-health pension transfer not liable for IHT
Legal Time Limits - why so important?
Would you pay a premium for a south-facing garden?
Video-witnessed wills to be made legal
New Planning Relaxation Is Not the Whole Storey
How to minimise delays in obtaining Grant of Probate
Could you benefit from the Green Homes Grant?
A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM: new electrical safety regulations for residential tenancies
Property of Cornish residents who die without a will goes to Prince Charles
What effect could the new changes to stamp duty have on property sales?
Staying safer in video meetings
Making Sure Your Great New Home Comes With Clean Air
Property Market Re-Opens in England
Coronavirus: Wills and Powers of Attorney FAQ
Medical Care Received Not Up to Scratch?
Accident or Injury Involving a Dog?
Social Distancing No Obstacle for Parnall's Mobile Document Signing Team
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Commercial Property Legal FAQs
Rent Charge Suspensions: Protecting Your Interests
Been Asked to Sign an Employment Settlement Agreement? Seek Advice Urgently...
Services Update: Continuity of Legal Service Provision
Advising You in Uncertain Times
Could carelessness on social media land you in court?
Is an electronic signature on a commercial property document acceptable?
What happens when there is no health & care LPA in place
Social Media Training for Businesses
Gazundering, what it is and how to avoid it
Relief from forfeiture – what happens if the tenant forgets to pay the rent?
Not so safe at work - compensation for an accident at work
New organ donation law: giving you control
Running a business from home
Have nude photos of you or your teenager been posted online?
Landowners’ rights and the Electronic Communications Code
Building in your back garden
Christmas is a time for giving (and inheritance planning)
Buying the freehold of your leasehold house
Redeveloping an empty pub for commercial use
Why it takes time to obtain the Grant of Probate
Social Media: The unconscious privacy threat
Is your reputation being threatened?
Making a will after your spouse or partner has died
Interns celebrate completion of internship at solicitors
Selling your home in a flat market, some top tips
New Media and Communications Court list reflects surge in internet defamation claims by Laura Baglow
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.