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When someone dies – What happens next?

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I thought that it might be useful to outline briefly what happens when someone close to you dies.  The first question I am often asked is, “What happens next?” “What needs to be done?”

  • One of the first arrangements to be made is the funeral.  Contact a local firm of Funeral Directors to discuss the services that they offer and the costs involved.
  • It is then necessary to register the death at the local Registrar of Birth Marriages and Deaths and to obtain a few copies of the Death Certificate. Two or three are useful because these are needed to register the death with Banks, Building Societies and other institutions.
  • One of the next steps is to ascertain whether the person who has died has left a Will.  An original Will is often with the family Solicitor.   A copy of the Will may be with the Deceased’s private papers.  We never mind receiving a phone call from relatives who are looking for a Will.
  • If there is a Will Executors will have been appointed by the deceased and it is their role to carry out the wishes of the deceased as set out in the Will.  If there is no Will the Deceased has died Intestate (without a Will).  In this situation there is no document setting out the Deceased’s wishes and therefore the Rules of Intestacy have to be followed.  These rules state who has the right to deal with the Deceased’s estate and this person is known as the Adminstrator, (rather than the Executor when there is a Will).
  • It is often at this stage that we are asked to help and we would ask you to tell us about the deceased’s assets.  Is there a house, bank and building society accounts, shares, insurance policies, premium bonds and so forth?  All this information has to be collated and the value ascertained.  We are more than happy to deal with this.
  • Most Banks, Building Societies and other organisations require a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration before they will release the Deceased’s assets to the Executor/Administrator.  This is the legal document that informs the organisation that they are releasing the Deceased’s asset to the correct person.
  • Once this document has been obtained assets are encashed, sold or transferred in accordance with the deceased’s Will or the Rules of Intestacy.  Final bills are paid and tax affairs sorted out.  The Estate is then distributed in accordance with the terms of the Will or Rules of Intestacy.

I know that this may sound somewhat complex and as stated we are more than happy to assist in this process, by doing so we hope to make a difficult time a little easier.


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