After the death of a partner or loved one, those left behind not only have the funeral, sadness and emotional turmoil to deal with, but also the realities and practicalities of everyday life. The deceased’s affairs have to be dealt with, sometimes a house sold and usually an estate administered and wound up.
The ownership of the deceased’s assets pass, at first instance, to the Personal Representatives and not automatically to the beneficiaries. If the deceased left a Will the burden and worry of who does what and gets what is removed.
But, if the deceased did not leave a Will, deciding who deals with the deceased’s affairs and who inherits the estate may not be straightforward. You are advised to talk to a Solicitor before doing anything. Your Solicitor will advise your Personal Representatives what needs to be done.
Personal Representatives (or PRs) are either:
The PRs often employ a Solicitor to advise and assist in the administration. A Solicitor may be appointed as a PR. PRs can be, and often are, the main beneﬁciaries of the deceased’s Will or Intestacy.
A PRs job is to:
No, you do not have to. You have a choice before becoming involved.
If you choose not to act as an Executor this is called ‘renouncing’. An Administrator who does not want to act is ‘passed over’. An Executor may also have “power reserved” to him leaving a Co-Executor to deal with the Estate.
Having “power reserved” means you can step in later if required. However, once you have started to be involved in the administration of an estate, you cannot simply change your mind just because things get diﬃcult, although you can retire for a good reason, such as ill health.
Not if you act correctly!
The PRs can seek a solicitor’s advice to help to deal with the administration of an estate and the cost is met from the money in the estate.
The PRs may also need further specialist advice during the administration, e.g. from professional valuers, an accountant or stockbroker’s advice on investments, and again the cost is met by the estate.
Yes, there are responsibilities involved in being a PR.
There are several Acts of Parliament and many other legal requirements covering a PR’s rights, duties and obligations. This is because PRs and Trustees may have control over large sums of other people’s money.
The beneﬁciaries can get compensation from the PR’s own money if the PRs are dishonest, careless or act wrongly.
PRs are expected to put the interests of beneﬁciaries ﬁrst and before their own. They must always act in the best interests of the estate.
It is therefore sensible for PRs to take legal advice to protect themselves.
Realistically each estate, like each family, is unique and thus can give rise to a range of issues. We will assist the PRs to the extent they wish to help sort these out.
Some people like to ‘have a go’ themselves. Whilst this is entirely possible, we find that the reality is that it takes the lay individual longer and can give rise to problems for the future. What seems straightforward is often not the case due to a lack of awareness of the issues.
The Internet for background information will point you in the right direction but there is no substitute for using a practice of solicitors specialising in this area.
First, telephone our bereavement team in any of our offices immediately after the death, and we will be pleased to provide initial practical guidance and support free of charge covering:
Going forward, we can then provide cost information and a home visit if required.
We have found over many years of experience that clients, whilst wishing to pass the burden of dealing with a loved ones estate to an experienced solicitor, are equally anxious quite understandably to ascertain at the outset the professional costs of doing so.
We are, therefore, faced with balancing these aspirations against the reality of not really knowing at the beginning of any new matter what precisely is involved and what issues may arise during the administration period. In an effort to manage these conflicting issues we offer our clients a choice over how our professional fees can be calculated.
We are flexible and transparent and can offer tailored packages to suit your requirements.
If you would like to talk to a specialist solicitor about Probate; Administration of Estates, please feel free to get in touch and explain your requirements with a no-obligation enquiry.
If you would prefer, you can also call our team on 01684 299633.
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