grant of letters of administration

The Cost of Dying Intestate

It’s a common question; what exactly is the cost of dying intestate? What harm will it really do to you family, my loved ones, those who care about me? Because, for many, it feels as though it does no harm at all to leave no will and to die ‘intestate’. After all, everything will just go to your next of kin, right?

The Cost of Dying Intestate 300x199 The Cost of Dying Intestate

Not necessarily. And don’t forget – it’s not just about the possessions, assets, and cash that you leave behind. It’s about the debts and the payments too. They don’t stop being owed just because you’ve passed away. And if your next of kin gets everything, they’ll get that too.

Firstly, when someone dies without a will they must hire a solicitor to deal with probate. This can take a long time, and be costly. All banks and utility companies need to be contacted and, if family members are up for doing this themselves, they can save a fair bit of money – but it’s an emotional thing to have to do.

There will be demands. Utility companies will send out letters regarding non-payment, and these letters may not be received. So more letters will be sent out until it gets to the stage where family members are having to explain – again – that their loved one has died and that no one is in the property, for example. At this point, the only way to deter some companies is to pay what is owed, which could be hundreds or thousands of pounds. So that’s a definitely, tangible cost on top of the emotional upheaval. At least the court case will be dropped.

But of course, after that comes the next bill – perhaps an estimated one, perhaps for the next few months. Another phone call explaining. Another plea for the automatic letters and calculations to be switched off. Hopefully they will be this time.

Will the banks give you time 300x199 The Cost of Dying Intestate

Now, what about the mortgage? Mortgage companies can’t talk to just anyone about specific cases, and in order to make any changes you will need to be an administrator (requiring a grant of administration, which allows a living person to act on the behalf of a dead person). But that can take an age without a will, and during that time late payments and penalties will be stacking up. And even if you are able to make the mortgage company aware of what has happened, and perhaps they’ll make notes on their system, they may still send out repossession letters, which is frightening and unnecessary.

Still not sure it’s worth the bother of writing a will? Would your family agree? 

Death of a child: a guide for divorced parents

Death of a child: a guide for divorced parents

The death of a child deals both parents a devastating blow, regardless of their marital status.  This tragedy however, can be made all the more stressful by warring parents, at a time when emotions are running high.

Both biological parents have the same right to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration and it is during this process that the difficult discussion regarding funeral arrangements will take place.

Hopefully, the grieving parents will agree on the details of the funeral but sadly, some do not.  In this instance, the decision will then lie with the court, which will attempt to deal with the matter as quickly and fairly as possible.

In Fessi v Whitmore, a 12 year old boy was the victim of a tragic accident.  His father had been his main carer since his parents were divorced, and the pair had recently moved away to a new area.  The father wanted his son's ashes to be interred close to their new home, whilst the mother requested that they be scattered close to the old family home at Nuneaton, where the boy's paternal grandparents' ashes had already been scattered.

The court in this instance reached a decision which was a compromise between the two, and the boy's ashes were finally interred at Nuneaton Crematorium, where all family members could come to pay their respects.

In another recent case, a bereaved mother was kept in a state of grief, whilst her son's ashes were retained at a funeral parlour for over a year, under the instruction of the father, who did not want them to be released to his former partner.  It was only following legal intervention that the boy's ashes could be released, and he can now finally be laid to rest.

The problems of intestacy – a case in point

 

Where a person doesn’t make a will, it can often cause tension and squabbles among beneficiaries after their death.

This is particularly so where the deceased leaves behind a considerable amount of money, either in cash or tied up in trusts or property.

Such was the case when a wealthy widow died, leaving not just a property but an entire estate. She had two sons, one of whom still lived on the estate, independently.

Although the rules of intestacy state that both brothers should have been entitled to administer and benefit from the estate mutually and equally, what in fact happened was that without any discussion, one brother applied for the grant of letters of administration, without mentioning the other.

To be sensible and fair, the two brothers, once equally responsible for administering the estate, would then have had the additional discussion of how they wanted to divide the assets between them.

Instead, the second brother was both confused and anxious about whether or not he would be involved in the process at all and how to go about asking for a share of the estate, without upsetting the other brother.

The second brother was advised that if his sibling continued to refuse to cooperate, then legal action should be taken and ultimately, his brother could be removed as personal representative.

All of this was of course completely unnecessary and was a split which wouldn’t have happened, if their mother had quite simply made a will, detailing who should receive what as opposed to dying intestate in the UK

Probate – insuring assets

As an executor, you may not realise the importance of having the deceased’s valuable assets insured, until such time as they have been disposed of or distributed.

Should their uninsured home suffer flooding whilst the probate process is underway for example, you could be held personally liable.

Always check that any insurance policies remain in place for at least six months after the person’s death and should probate continue after this time, check periodically that everything is still current.

Don’t allow valuables to remain on full view of visitors or passers by, when public notification of the death has been given.  Similarly, ensure that their home continues to look occupied and strengthen security measures if necessary.

The role of several executors

 

We all know that it is the executor of a will who ensures that all outstanding debts and taxes are paid on a deceased’s estate, before distributing the remaining assets as instructed by the will.

However, what happens when, as is so often the case, several executors have been nominated by the deceased?

Legally, up to four executors can in fact be identified, although they are not obliged to take up the role.

The democratic route is of course to agree on all actions taken during the probate process, although this can slow the whole procedure down considerably and give rise to disagreements.

A more efficient route is for all executors to identify and nominate one trusted individual to take charge and see that the probate process is carried out correctly.

In either instance, it is always advised that open, prompt and honest communication is the key to settling the deceased’s estate most quickly, accurately and with the minimum of stress and fuss.

Want to ensure all the estate’s debts have been paid?

 

The role of executor brings with it a whole host of legal and moral responsibilities.  Knowledge or experience of the probate process is extremely useful but for a first time executor, the pitfalls of ensuring that all debts are paid can be hazardous.

The first stage of the process is to go through all the deceased’s paperwork to pinpoint any outstanding bills, creditors, bank accounts, savings accounts and funds.  Monetary gifts or additional income can often be identified through bank statements and will need to be declared to HMRC.

Next, turn your attention to their home.  We often advise that it’s best to bring in a professional home valuation team, who can value the entire contents much more accurately and quickly than an executor.

If you’re not sure of what income they received and regular outgoings, then it may be wise to ask someone closer to the deceased who might have more information.  An excellent defence tactic is to advertise in the press for anyone who feels they may have a claim to the estate.

Of course, all this takes time and effort, so we always recommend that executors use the services of a professional probate practitioner, who can shoulder the burden of this often enormous and stressful task.

Powers Granted in Letters of Administration

Powers Granted in Letters of Administration

There are a number of reasons in cases of probate for individuals to seek Letters of Administration.  A Grant of Letters of Administration may be requested by the next-of-kin in a case where the deceased has died intestate (without a will). This Grant can also be applied for if the executor named in the will has passed away, or is unwilling or unable to act as executor.
 
Whatever the circumstances, by the Grant of Letters of Administration the court officially appoints an administrator to handle the deceased estate. It gives the person who receives this appointment exactly the same powers as an executor that has been named in a will.
 
Through the Grant of Letters of Administration an individual can sell, mortgage, or otherwise dispose of the assets of the deceased.  An administrator cannot make any profit out of the estate for himself, other than what he might obtain as a beneficiary.
 
Up to 4 administrators may be appointed to execute an estate and in addition to the powers they are given there are certain duties that they have to perform. These include securing all assets and taking possession of these where ever possible. An administrator should also take out insurance to protect the value of any assets.
 
If there are any estate liabilities and taxes, such as inheritance tax, the administrator needs to arrange for these to be paid. When all of the debts on an estate have been settled, the administrator must distribute the estate in accordance with the laws of intestacy.
 
If you have any questions with regards to Letters of Administration call our free probate advice line on 0800 612 6105, open until 10pm, 7 days a week.

Defining Terms when Applying for Letters of Administration

six1 Defining Terms when Applying for Letters of AdministrationSurprisingly; approximately two-thirds of Brits die without making a will. In these cases, instead of applying for a grant of probate the next of kin (according to intestacy law) applies for letters of administration. This can be extremely confusing; opening up a whole new vocabulary of legal terminology. If you’ve never experienced this before – it can be very daunting.
 
Here’s a quick guide to some terms you’re likely to come across and what they mean. It’s written in a simple, concise manner and therefore, easy to understand. 
 
Administrator – The person who make the application for Letters of Administration.
 
Caveat - A simple form which can be lodged at any registry office that will prevent anyone from applying for Probate.
 
Deed of Variation – A legal document written after death to redistribute a person’s assets. It is normally used in cases of intestacy to mitigate inheritance tax liability, providing everyone involved agrees.
 
Grant of Letters of Administration – See Letters of Administration.

Intestacy – A case of intestacy or intestate death simply means someone who has passed away without a valid will.
 
Intestacy Law – The law that governs what happens to a person’s estate if they did not make a will. See also Rules of Intestacy.
 
Letters of Administration – are applied for in cases of intestacy. This is essentially the same as the executor of a will applying for Probate. The ‘letters’ are simply a legal document which give the deceased’s representative the legal authority to handle the deceased affairs. This is necessary when dealing with financial institutions for access to monies, shares and to sell property.
 
Partial Intestacy – is when there is a will but it does not fully dispose of the deceased's assets.

Personal Representative – The PR is the person dealing with the estate of the deceased person.

Probate Registry – A Division of the High Court permitted to give a person legal authority to deal with the assets of a deceased person.

Rules of Intestacy - determine who can apply for probate to deal with the deceased’s affairs and how the estate will be distributed. This is based on next of kin or closest blood relatives; you can find full details by clicking on the link to our intestacy chart.
 
You can bookmark the page for quick reference to use later on. If you need any more help, you can also call our free-phone number 0800 612 6105 – you can speak to a friendly, knowledgeable advisor right up until 10pm, 7 days a week.

Responsibilities When You Are Granted Letters of Administration

When a loved one dies intestate, you will need to apply for letters of administration to gain access to the deceased’s bank accounts and other assets. The application is straightforward enough. However, the responsibilities that come with dealing with a loved ones estate may not be so straightforward, especially when you are still grieving. Only you can decide whether you would be able to cope with doing it all yourself.
 
Once you are granted letters of administration, you will need to find all the assets belonging to the estate. You will also need to pay off any debts owed by the deceased and discover whether they have any debts owing to them. You will then need to chase those debts up.
 
Next you will need to find out who is entitled to the deceased’s assets, by checking the rules of intestacy. This alone can be difficult because even though the rules of intestacy are set out by law, some family members may feel that they have not been sufficiently provided for. They may have the right to appeal and this can cause stress and conflict, if you have to deal with it all yourself.
 
Dealing with a relative’s affairs when they have died intestate is far more complicated than if they have left a will. It really is a huge burden, and in some cases it can drag on for years. Then when you have finally dealt with everything, you will need to calculate inheritance tax owing, and deal with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, before you distribute the deceased’s assets.
 
All this can be far too much for most people to cope with and if you are not confident that you can cope with it, it would be wise to seek legal assistance, before you apply for letters of administration. But if you are worried about the expense of having a solicitor deal with the estate, it may be worth seeking advice and assistance from a probate specialist such as IWC; who offer fixed fee probate services. That way, you will know the exact fees upfront and you won’t have to worry about running up massive hourly charges.
 
If you are still not sure whether you want to deal with your loved ones estate, it is worth finding out how complicated your case might be. IWC Probate Specialists will be happy to give you free advice. You will then be able to decide whether you want to apply for letters of administration yourself, and handle your loved ones financial affairs.  Call now on 0800 612 6105.

Do You Need to Apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration?

six Do You Need to Apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration?If a close relative has died intestate, meaning that they did not make a will, you may need to apply for a grant of letters of administration. This will enable you to gain access to your deceased relative’s assets, so that you can deal with their estate.

In certain circumstances, letters of administration are not necessary. If your relative left assets of under £5000 after the funeral fees were paid, you may not need to apply for a grant. Or if the only assets are shared property, or money in joint bank accounts it may not be required.

Relatives entitled to apply for a grant of letters of administration include the spouse of the deceased, their parents, or their children, and they must send the application to the probate registry. This can be a daunting experience; in addition to grieving the death of a loved one, you will need to deal with the complications that dying without a will can cause. 

When someone dies intestate, it is often far more difficult to deal with the distribution of their estate. Some situations complicate the procedure even further. For example, if children under the age of 18 are entitled to benefit from the inheritance, more than one person must apply.  

Tax can cause additional complications when someone dies intestate, there could be a hefty bill to pay, without any plan in place to lessen liability.  It is possible to alter intestacy to mitigate tax, provided that everyone affected agrees.  As inheritance tax can be complicated and confusing, it is advisable to instruct a legal practitioner to work on your behalf.  They can apply for a grant of letters of administration and help you to deal with the distribution of the estate.

If the assets of your deceased relative have a large financial value, the laws of intestacy set particular rules on how you must distribute the assets. For example, if a spouse dies intestate and the inheritance exceeds a certain sum, other close relatives may be entitled to a portion of the deceased’s estate.

It may be possible to appeal against the way the assets are to be distributed.  For example, you may be a close relative of the deceased and you do not believe that you are getting your fair share of the estate. Also, if you are a common law partner, that was financially reliant on the deceased, you may be entitled to appeal.

Appeals can be complicated and you must make an application within 6 months. If you intend to appeal, it would be wise to seek advice from a legal practitioner before the letters of administration are issued.

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