What is required to be done when someone dies?
The death must be registered at the local Registrar’s Office. The GP or Hospital who attended the deceased will issue a Medical Certificate of Death, which will be required by the Registrar, together with personal details of the deceased. This allows the Registrar to issue an Extract Registered Death Certificate for use by the Funeral Director and Solicitor.
Once the funeral has taken place, collect all paperwork relating to the affairs of the deceased and make arrangements to meet with the Solicitor who will attend to the administration involved in the winding-up of the Estate.
What happens if there is a Will (Testate Estate)?
The Will may contain funeral instructions and it is therefore important to consult the deceased’s Solicitor regarding the Will as soon as possible after the death. The Will will specify the appointed Executors whose duty it is to carry out the instructions contained in the Will under the guidance of the professional services of the Solicitor handling the Executry Estate. It is therefore advisable that the Executors instruct a Solicitor to act in the winding-up of the Estate as quickly as possible after the death. The Solicitor will deal with the in gathering of the Estate funds, determine Estate liabilities and inform the beneficiaries of their entitlement in terms of the Will.
What happens if there is no Will (In testate Estate)?
The Estate is then referred to as "in testate" and is governed by the Law of In testate Succession. Certain categories within the family, that is surviving spouse, children and more distant relatives may have rights to which they are entitled to claim in the Estate of the in testate party. A Solicitor will be able to give advice regarding the procedures involved, including the appointment of an Executor who would normally be the closest relative having an interest in the Estate. The Solicitor would prepare and lodge a Petition with the local Sheriff Court and have that party appointed Executor. Given the additional administrative work and the extra time involved in such a procedure, it is certainly advisable that clients do, in fact, make out their Wills and avoid their Estate falling into the category of intestacy.
What is the role of the Executor?
The Executor is an administrator who assists the Solicitor in the compiling of information for the Estate Inventory, i.e., listing of assets and liabilities as at the date of death. The Executor in the presence of the Solicitor signs the completed Estate Inventory and where there is a Will in existence, the Inventory and Will are lodged in the local Sheriff Court with the request that the Sheriff Clerk issues a Grant of Confirmation (otherwise known in England as Grant of Probate). This Grant of Confirmation gives the Executor express authority to instruct the Solicitor to uplift the moveable assets of the deceased and to deal with the transfer or sale of heritable property.
When is Inheritance Tax payable?
At the present time Inheritance Tax is payable in Estates over a certain amount where there is no exemption applying - for example, to the surviving spouse. Clients should always monitor the extent of their assets and plan for any possible Inheritance Tax liability. Even the drafting of straightforward Wills can greatly assist in the minimising, or even avoidance, of payment of Inheritance Tax.
What is the charge for winding-up an Estate?
The fee involved will broadly depend on the size of the Estate and the amount of work carried out in the administration. The Solicitor is entitled to charge for time expended and is allowed commission on funds handled. Executry files are often independently assessed by the Auditor appointed by the Sheriff Court, who has set guidelines on agreeing or abating any time or charges shown.
Best Advice - MAKE A WILL NOW!