Where you have complex family or financial circumstances, then it is advisable to appoint professional executors to administer the estate. For example, this may be the case where you intend to exclude family members or if you have a business, investment properties and/or overseas assets.
We do not charge you a fee if you appoint the partners of Bishop & Sewell as Executors of your Will.
Alternatively, you may have been named an executor under the Will of someone that has died and aren’t sure what to do next. The complexities of inheritance tax, probate and administration can be tricky to navigate, especially during times of grieving.
If so, we can also help. Having a local, efficient and experienced lawyer in your corner can make all the difference when applying to Court for legal authority to deal with the deceased’s estate.
The main duties of an executor are to:
- Identify everything in the estate e.g. cash from bank accounts and investments, get valuations of any property or pensions or shares, and calculate mortgage sums due, as well as borrowing and tax liabilities;
- Complete complex inheritance tax forms, deal with any inheritance tax due and apply for a grant of probate;
- Collect in money from the estate, pay off the deceased’s debts and liabilities, and distribute the money to the beneficiaries of the Will;
- pay funeral costs, collect in assets and pay debts and liabilities. They trace and pay the beneficiaries and draw up complex estate accounts to ensure that everything has been accounted for;
- Act as trustees if the Will sets up a trust e.g. for children under 18.
If a spouse, civil partner or other family member dies without having a valid Will, their estate is distributed under the intestacy rules. There is a strict statutory order of whom would inherit their estate, which would be administered by the deceased’s closest relative.
The key points to be aware of are:
- Only direct family will inherit under intestacy: not unmarried partners or friends.
- Where the deceased leaves surviving spouse or civil partner but no children – surviving spouse or civil partner inherits everything.
- Where the deceased leaves surviving spouse or civil partner and surviving children, the surviving spouse or civil partner receives all personal possessions absolutely (whatever their value) and takes the first £250,000 if the deceased died after 1 October 2014 but on or before 5 February 2020. The value of the legacy to the surviving spouse or civil partner increases to £270,000 if the deceased died on or after 6 February 2020.
The remainder of the estate is split equally into two halves. The surviving spouse or civil partner takes one half absolutely and the other half is divided equally between the surviving children.
- Where there is no surviving spouse or civil partner but the deceased leaves blood relatives, their estate passes in a strict order to these relatives.
- Situations may be complicated by multiple marriages and divorces.
- Financial dependents who do not inherit under intestacy may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance Act.
If you are a family member in this situation, contact us and we will discuss how we can help and guide you through this process.
Resealing Foreign Probate Grants
You may need help collecting assets in England and Wales where the deceased died whilst living in a foreign country, but some part of their estate is within England or Wales.
The foreign country may have granted a Grant of Probate, but that doesn’t mean you can collect the English assets using that same Grant.
Under certain circumstances, there is an option for the English court to ‘reseal’ a Grant of Probate obtained in the foreign country. This avoids the need for the Executors to apply for a fresh Grant to release any assets such as funds, shares, or property held in England and Wales.
If you hold a foreign Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration) and need it to be recognised under English law, then ‘resealing’ the Grant may be the easiest option. Contact us and one of our friendly experts will discuss how we can help and guide you through this process.
One of our expert team would be happy to contact you to discuss your circumstances, and how we can best help.