Call us: 01543 421303

Will Management After Someone Passes Away

Category: What To Do When Someone Dies

If you have recently lost a loved one and want to know how to manage their Will and estate following their passing, this simple guide will explain what you need to do and how to do it.

Remember to take your time and remain patient if you’re managing a Will as you and the people that the instructions effect, may have a significant impact on lives.

What is a Will?

A Will (Last Will and Testament) is a legal document that details the last wishes of somebody who has passed away, including instructions on how to deal with the possessions and estate they leave behind.

The exact instructions left behind are legally binding and the only way to contest them, is by opening an official legal process and hiring a solicitor.

Who is entitled to a copy of a will?

Every single member of the immediate family is entitled to a copy of the Will of somebody who has passed away, even if they are not listed as someone who is listed in the document.

However, nobody except the person whose Will it is, is allowed to view it before they pass away, furthermore, it is only after the death and a grant of probate is issued to the family.

Therefore, there is no way to view a Will before a probate is issued.

What does the Grant of Probate / Executor of the Will have to do?

There are a number of responsibilities that an Executor will have to carry out after somebody has passed away as they are in charge of dividing up any assets or monies which are left behind as well as any particular funeral arrangements that their loved one may have had.

There are a number of immediate and ‘Must do’ responsibilities than an Executor has once a person passes away, they include;

  • Registering the death and getting a Grant of Probate
  • Paying inheritance tax if applicable
  • Carrying out the exact instructions left within the Will

To find out what a Grant of Probate is and how to get one, read our dedicated guide here (insert link once live)

The instructions will vary from one Will to another of course, but some of the common responsibilities may include;

  • Selling the property and sharing sales proceeds as per the Will
  • Managing property and tenants if applicable
  • Receiving all of the money left behind and sharing as instructed

How long does it take to execute the Will?

A Will can be viewed and read after a death certificate is issued and submitted to the solicitor, bank or appointed representative that was holding the document.

Once more, it is only once a Grant of Probate has been issued that the contents of the Will can be acted upon, however, before any relative can access funds from their departed loved one, there will be a period of around six to nine months in most cases.

If there are specific assets to be sold, then it will depend on the efficiency of the Executor of the Will as the sale of a property may take over a year if a price negotiation is being had with a potential buyer.

Inheritance Tax and Debts

As highlighted above, if money and assets have been left behind, the first priority must be to pay inheritance tax and pay off any debts that remain.

However, it is only if the overall value of an estate is over £325,000 that inheritance tax is applied or there is a spouse, civil partner, charity or amateur sports club to receive the money.

What to do with the possessions of the departed

Unless there are specific instructions for the personal possessions of somebody who has passed away within the Will, it is up to all of the family member to divide it all.

If there are items which are of high value, they should be valued as a part of the estate.

When it comes to possessions, it is important to remember that some items may mean more to some people in the family than to you, and throwing away certain things may cause upset for others.

It would be sensible to arrange a time between all of the family to go through the possessions of the lost loved one and keep track of what is being kept and what is being thrown away or given to charity.

What to do if there is not a Will

If a loved one has passed away unexpectedly and they have not written a Will, they are referred to as an intestate person.

If the person who has passed away is married or has a civil partner, everything will be passed to them, however, if a marriage or civil partnership has ended through divorce or ended legally, the surviving person will have no claim to the estate of the departed.

If there is no surviving partner, then the inheritance will be passed to the children and divided equally.

The grandchildren or great-grandchildren of somebody who passes away without a spouse, will not have any direct or immediate claim to inheritance unless it is stipulated within the Will.

In the unfortunate case of somebody having no living relatives, the estate will be passed to the Crown in a process called bona vacantia.

Managing a Will during a difficult time

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things that will happen to a person in their whole life, so it is important to take enough time to process the loss before getting into a process which could cause additional stress.

The most important thing to consider is to take one step at a time when it comes to dealing with a Will as well as all of the additional formalities.