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1. LOCATING THE WILL The deceased person should have a copy of the will in their home, including the details of the solicitor or bank who prepared the will. Check the Will to see who the executors are. If no Will (intestate), an application will be made to the Court to appoint an executor. It is important to note that even if a person acted under a power of attorney during the deceased's lifetime, this does not give him the right to act as executor. The executor is either appointed in the Will or, where there is no will, by the court.

2. THE FUNERAL An executor or more usually a member of the family will arrange the funeral and register the death. Contact the local registrars office within eight days from the death to register it with the following documents relating to the deceased: birth certificate, marriage/civil partnership certificate, NHS medical card, National Insurance number and Form 11 Medical Certificate from the undertaker. If a birth/marriage certificate is missing, a copy can be obtained from the General Register Office.

3. ESTATE INVENTORY The executor or his agent then gathers together the deceased's papers and lists the assets of the estate. This must include all assets including property in the deceased's name whether held as an individual or jointly with someone else or even in trust. An executor or his agent must obtain values of all the assets of the estate at the date of death including property, shares and interest accrued on bank accounts. For stocks and shares quoted on the London Stock Exchange, the price can be found in the financial pages of a newspaper. A newspaper printed on the day of death will have share prices for the day before (which is the relevant price). There is advice on the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website on working out the value of shares.

4. DEBTS AND LIABILITIES The executor or his agent obtains details of all debts and liabilities as at the date of death, including the funeral account. If there are insufficient funds, the bill for the funeral can be passed to a bank holding funds in the name of the deceased.

5. GIFT DETAILS The executor or his agent must obtain details of any gifts of cash or assets the deceased made in the seven years prior to death as this value is added to the estate for inheritance tax (IHT) purposes.

6. SMALL ESTATE If the gross value of the estate is under £36,000, the family can contact the local court for assistance with winding up the estate. If they are asked to obtain Confirmation in Scotland or Probate in England, or the estate is over £36,000, the family is unlikely to be able to do it themselves.

7. HMRC PAPERWORK This is complicated. Usually professional assistance will be required. Forms and a guide can be found on HMRC website. If applicable, IHT is paid when these forms are submitted. An executor or his agent can access the deceased's bank accounts, or National Savings & Investments, to pay any inheritance tax (IHT) bill. IHT on a property can be paid in instalments but if a house is sold, the instalment option ceases and the IHT must be paid in full.

8. LODGING THE PAPERS The court forms and a clearance letter from HMRC are sent to the court. Once the court grants Confirmation or Probate then the administration of the estate can be started.

9. ADMINISTRATION The Confirmation or Probate is exhibited to those organizations who are holding assets in the deceased’s name to release funds. The executor or his agent can sell or transfer the assets of the estate after he has settled any debts, liabilities or cash legacies in terms of the will.

10. FINAL STATEMENT The executor or his agent will prepare a statement showing all receipts and payments in connection with the estate and distribute the estate to the beneficiaries in terms of the Will or if there is no Will, under the law of intestate succession (see our Wills section).

Nothing on this website constitutes legal advice and EBS Trustees accepts no liability for any actions taken by any individual in reliance of what is written here.

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