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When someone dies: a step by step guide to administration

When someone dies, the administration can seem overwhelming at what is a very difficult time. We take a look at each step to be taken.

Following a death, dealing with all of the necessary paperwork is an onerous task. If a Will is left, it will appoint an executor who will be responsible for carrying out most of the work, or they can engage a probate solicitor to do this on their behalf.

Register the death

A family member or the executor can register the death at the local Register Office. This should be done within five days of the death. The government should then be notified, which can be done using the Tell Us Once service, so that most government departments will be notified in one go.

Find the Will

If there is a Will, this should be located. It may be stored with the deceased’s solicitor or bank. There will usually be a letter of receipt indicating where it is with the deceased’s papers.

If there is no Will, then someone who is entitled to inherit can apply to be the estate administrator.

Make funeral arrangements

The Will may include details of what sort of funeral the deceased would have liked. Family members will generally arrange this, with the first step being to contact a funeral director, who will guide everyone through the process.

Value the estate

The deceased’s personal representative, either their executor if they left a Will or their administrator if they did not, will need to locate all of the deceased’s assets and obtain a value for them, as at the date of death. They will also need to establish what debts and other liabilities exist and what income the deceased was being paid.

Pay Inheritance Tax

Once it has been established how much the deceased’s net estate is worth, Inheritance Tax should be calculated and paid.

Apply for a Grant of Representation

Many estates require a Grant of Representation to enable them to be administered, although a small estate without any property might not require this.

If there is a Will, the executor should apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate. If there was no Will, the administrator will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. This document gives the personal representative the legal authority to collect in and sell the deceased’s assets.

Estate administration

Once the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is received, the estate can be wound up. This involves collecting in and selling or transferring the deceased’s assets, to include clearing and selling property, paying the deceased’s debts, closing accounts, preparing estate accounts and distributing the estate in accordance with either the Will, if there is one, or the Rules of Intestacy if there is not.

If you are dealing with the affairs of someone who has died and you would like help from an expert probate lawyer, please feel free to call us on 01243 216900 or email us at

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd. With legalmatters, your Will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice, and legal services for business owners, can all be dealt with over the phone, by video conference or by email and documents are sent to you by post. We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients. If you do find that you need to call into the office – for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends – then do please get in touch.

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