What to do when someone dies

Listed Under: Blog

The death of a loved one is is something we may all have to face at some time but, often, we do not know much about what to do as far as the legal process is concerned. So, we have put together a short guide to help you with the process.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process for dealing with the estate of someone who has died. If the deceased person left a will, they may have specified an executor or executors. These are expected to “execute” the will. An executor has the responsibility to carry out the person’s wishes, as written down in their will. In many cases the family and/or friends of the person will be the executor/s of the will. However, people may also appoint professional executors, such as a solicitor or will writer. If there is no executor named in the will, or if there is no will, someone must become the administrator of the estate.

What to do if there is no Will

Research has shown that nearly half of Britons over 55 do not have a will, so it is quite possible that the deceased died without one, leaving them intestate. The intestacy rules are the principles laid down by law which stipulate how the estate is to be administered if there is no will. First, an application must be made to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration. This document gives the person named the authority to administer the deceased person’s estate. This person is known as an administrator.

The rules of intestacy follow a hierarchy of who should benefit from the estate. This order is spouse or civil partner, children/grandchildren, parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles and aunts. All this may not be what the deceased person wished, which is why we would highly advise you to make a will (contact our offices to do so).

How do you start the process of Probate?

You will need to obtain a Grant of Representation. This is a document obtained from the court to prove the legal authority of the person entrusted to deal with a deceased person's estate. The kind of grant that you need to obtain will also depend on your circumstances, as mentioned above. If you are a named executor in the Will you will require a Grant of Probate, if you are the administrator with no Will  you will require Letters of Administration and if  you are the administrator of a Will and the Will is present you will require  Letters of Administration. To simplify the process and to receive expert help, please contact our solicitors to act on your behalf to do this.

How long does the process take?

The length of time this process takes is dependent on how complex the deceased’s estate is. For example, if there are multiple houses, bank accounts, assets which were not known to the executor it could take a long time. On average, if the Will is not contested, the whole process can take anywhere between 6-12 months, but it can be much quicker if the estate is simple. A way of minimising delays is to ask a qualified solicitor to make the application on your behalf. This will help to ensure that the Probate application is correctly completed and we would encourage you to contact us today to help you.

How we can help

At JW Hughes & Co. Solicitors we have a team of dedicated solicitors who are ready to help you resolve your query or issue relating to this area of the law as quickly and effectively as possible. If you need assistance with obtaining a grant of probate or letter of administration, or simply want advice on dealing with the Probate Registry, our solicitors have a wealth of experience. They can help you through what can be a difficult time, dealing with estate and trust property and complex estates. Please contact Nick Passey or Rhys Lewis in Conwy on 01492 596596 or Phil Kentish in Llandudno on 01492 874774.