Administering a loved one’s estate is a huge responsibility. This month, Lucy Carrick discusses the process involved and how you can avoid unnecessary upset…
What does administration of an estate involve?
When administering an estate, you are responsible for identifying and valuing your loved one’s assets, including any property, bank accounts and personal items. It will also fall to you to pay off any debts, such as funeral expenses, utility bills and credit cards from the assets.
You will then be required to distribute the remaining estate to those who are entitled to inherit. The manner in which this will be undertaken depends on whether your loved one made a will or you are following the intestacy rules.
To access the estate, you may have to apply for probate. This requires the value the assets and liabilities to be calculated, to determine if any inheritance tax is due. If applicable, it has to be paid before you are granted the power to collect in any money and distribute the balance.
Who can administer an estate?
If your loved one made a will, it will normally state within it who they wished to act as executors, i.e. administer their estate.
In situations where there is no will, the rules of intestacy apply and those entitled to inherit can put themselves forward to act as administrators. Anyone in this role can ask a solicitor for assistance if they feel out of their depth.
Should I use a solicitor to administer an estate? What are the advantages?
Dealing with a loved one’s estate following their death can be a daunting and distressing task. It is not compulsory to instruct a solicitor, although allowing someone else to help does take some of the pressure off you.
As an executor or administrator, you are personally liable for any mistakes made whilst distributing the estate. For example, this could involve failing to pay inheritance tax or giving assets to the wrong people. The process can be complicated and time-consuming, particularly if the estate is quite large.
By instructing a specialist probate solicitor, you ensure the administration is done correctly and release yourself from the burden at this difficult time. In most cases, the legal fees can be paid from the estate, so there is no cost to you.
Acting as an executor or administrator brings with it a lot of responsibility. Even if you feel capable of tackling the role, it is a good idea to seek professional advice, to ensure you don’t fall foul of the law.
For more information about administering a deceased estate, don’t hesitate to contact a member of our probate team on (0114) 218 4000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org