When someone passes away, after the grieving process, consideration needs to be given to what must be done in relation to the Estate. That is, what to do with the deceased persons assets. The first thing to do is to locate the Will. Hopefully the deceased person will have made one, if not they are regarded as having died ‘intestate’ and dealing with the estate will be more difficult.
Hopefully the Will has been left with someone or placed somewhere for safe keeping and can be located easily. Otherwise a thorough search of the house may be required. At Johnston Tobin Solicitors we hold original Wills and other documents in safe custody free of charge for our clients. Banks these days charge an annual fee for keeping documents. A Will could be with a private trustee company or the Public Trustees Office. I have acted for clients who believed no Will existed only to have one fall from an old book while cleaning out the house.
It is usually the appointed executor who should be making any arrangements. If none is appointed the court will decide who administers the estate, which could be the next of kin or a beneficiary. The question then is, is formal administration of the estate necessary. Formal administration of an estate requires the executor to make an application to the Supreme Court for a grant of Probate. Probate is an order of the court declaring the Will to be valid and allowing the estate to be administered, which may include the sale of any assets and distribution to beneficiaries.
If the deceased held all their property jointly with another person, the estate could pass directly to that person without formal administration. It may only be necessary to produce copies of the Will and the death certificate to various bodies to change ownership of the various assets. If a deceased person owns real estate there must be an application for Probate. Funds held in bank accounts often won’t be released without Probate, unless only a small amount.
Getting legal advice early can help solve a lot of worries. Give me a call if you would like to know more.