It’s never easy dealing with the death of a loved one and all the emotion and grief that comes with it. It can often be difficult to think straight and you find yourself struggling to do even the simplest of day-to-day tasks. But, as awful as it is, there’s the financial side of things that needs to be dealt with after the loss of someone close to you, such as settling an estate.
If you’ve been listed as an executor in a close friend or family member’s will, then you might need the help of companies such as Beyond which offer a probate service. But for now, here are the first steps towards settling an estate after the death of a loved one.
- Find the will
First things first, you’ve got to find out where the person who passed away kept their will, if indeed they wrote one. They may have already told you, but if not, check their home for where you think they may have stored their important documents. Places such as an office drawer or filing cabinet, for example. If you have no luck, find out whether they had a bank or solicitor who they may have been storing the will with.
- Notify the relevant people
It’s important that you register the death as soon as possible and make a copy of the will for yourself before filing the original document with the probate court. After that, you need to notify all the relevant companies that should be made aware that the person has passed away, such as banks, utility companies, mortgage companies and any other important accounts that your loved one held.
- Decide whether you need a probate specialist
Dealing with someone’s estate can often be a challenging and lengthy process, so you need to be certain that you’re able to cope with the requirements and potential stress if you choose to take on everything yourself. If, however, the idea seems a little daunting or you know you’re going to struggle to find the time, then seek the help of a probate specialist who’ll be able to guide you through, step-by-step.
- Figure out the value of the estate
You’ll need to work out not just how much money a person had or how much their assets were worth, but also what debt they owed for things such as credit cards, loans or a mortgage. As the executor, it’s up to you to ensure that money from their estate is used to pay off all these debts. This will then help you to determine how much Inheritance Tax, if any, will need to be paid. 40% is payable on estates whose value exceeds a certain amount.
- Distributing the estate
Once you’ve settled all the deceased’s debts and paid for any funeral and admin costs with the estate, you’re then able to distribute what remains to the beneficiaries listed in the will. Hopefully, this can be a relatively straight forward process, but it might be worth getting a signed receipt from each beneficiary once they’ve received their share. You never know when problems or disagreements may arise in the future.
It can sometimes be a difficult time for those involved in settling an estate, so always seek legal advice if you come up against any issues or conflicts.