Wills - Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do when someone dies?

You need to register the death at the local registrar within 5 days of the date of death. Further details on how to do this can be found at question 2 below.

You should also arrange the funeral as soon as you are ready to do so.

If the deceased left a will, then this will need to be located and the persons who are named as “executors” in the will are then responsible for dealing with and winding up the deceased’s financial affairs.

It is often the case that the executors will need the assistance of a solicitor to go through the process of collecting in the assets, applying for a grant of probate (if necessary), paying any tax due and finally distributing the assets in the estate.

The process of administering an estate can be complicated and our private client department would be glad to assist and guide you through this difficult time.

How do I register a death?

First, you need to collect the “Certificate of Death” from either the hospital or from the deceased’s GP. You should then book an appointment with the local registrar’s office in order to obtain the “Death Certificate”. When you attend the registrar’s office, you will need to take a note of the deceased’s full name, address, date of birth, place of birth, occupation, marital status, and their spouse/partner’s name. Each copy of the death certificate currently costs £11.

What does “probate” mean?

“Probate” is a legal document which allows the persons named as executors in the deceased’s will to deal with the administration of their estate. The process of applying for probate can sometimes be complicated but we would be more than happy to assist.

What are “letters of administration”?

“Letters of Administration” are the equivalent of probate where the deceased did not leave a will. Again, it gives the applicant authority to deal with the administration of the deceased’s estate.

Do I need to apply for probate?

It is a common misconception that if the deceased has made a will, then probate is not required. Whether probate is required is dependent upon the value of the deceased’s estate and the assets in that estate. Generally, probate is required where the estate is worth more than £30,000 or where there are stocks and shares or property within the estate.

Can I access money after someone has died?

As soon as the deceased’s bank is informed of the death, all accounts in the deceased’s name are frozen and cannot be accessed until the estate has been finally administered which is likely to be several months.

However, banks are willing to release certain amounts of money from a frozen account in order to pay the funeral bill. Evidence of the funeral costs will need to be produced to the bank before the money is released.

If there are any joint accounts, these will be transferred into the sole name of the surviving party and can be accessed as normal.

If you want any further information regarding any of the above, call us on 01502 532300. Our solicitors have extensive experience in dealing with wills and probate matters.