As adults, we are aware of the cycle of life. However, even with this knowledge, when family member or close friend dies, it can turn our world upside down. Arranging the funeral and dealing with their estate seems a mammoth and daunting task. Winston Solicitors can provide support, practical guidance and legal advice to help you through what can be an extremely difficult time.
Our guide and checklist will help you through the tasks ahead,
Registering the death
Before any other arrangements can be made, the death needs to be registered and preferably must be done within five days:
- Contact the doctor or hospital to obtain a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.
- Telephone the Register of Births and Deaths in Leeds on 0113 222 4408 to arrange an appointment to register the death. Appointments can be made at any of the One Stop Centres in Leeds, Armley, Chapeltown, Dewsbury, Garforth, Harehills, Middleton, Morley, Otley, Pudsey, Rawdon, Rothwell and Wetherby.
- The appointment usually lasts around half an hour. It is advisable to order multiple copies at the time because if you need further copies later, they cost more.
- Make sure you give the correct details because if you make an error, you have to pay to rectify it.
- They will give you a link to the online government ‘tell us once’ service and by using this, most national and local government agencies will be informed about the deceased’s death so you don’t need to contact them all individually.
Who to inform
- Family members and friends
- Employer or educational establishment
- Health professionals, so pending appointments can be cancelled
- Care agencies such as social services, home carers and meals on wheels
- The deceased’s solicitor to check whether they made a will and if so, to find out who the executors are
- Banks and building societies
- Local authority
You may need to sort out the deceased’s estate if you are an executor. You can instruct a solicitor to assist you with this. They will obtain the Grant of Probate (if required) and administer the estate on your behalf (collect in the assets, pay the debts and distribute what is left to the beneficiaries). If no will was made, the deceased is said to be “intestate” and a solicitor can guide you through the intestacy process.
Arranging the funeral
- Check to see if the deceased had a funeral plan or whether there are any specific wishes contained in the will.
- Contact the funeral director to discuss the funeral arrangements
- If the funeral director requires a deposit, you can contact the deceased’s bank who will pay the funeral invoice, even if the accounts have been frozen (if there are funds available)
Obtaining the Grant of Representation
Our Private Client Team is able to guide you through all aspects of administering the deceased’s estate and ensuring that their wishes are fulfilled. We can help with obtaining the Grant, whether a will has been made or not.
A Grant of Representation gives someone the legal authority to deal with an estate. There are two types, broadly speaking:
- Grant of Probate – where there is a will and executors are appointed to administer the estate. Beneficiaries are named in the will.
- Grant of Letters of Administration – where the deceased died “intestate” (without a will) and administrators must be appointed to administer the estate. Beneficiaries are named according to the Intestacy Rules.
Encashing the assets and distributing the estate
Once probate has been granted, the executors or administrators have the legal authority to close bank accounts, sell property and shares, and deal with the general administration of the deceased’s estate.
If we assist you and there is a property to sell, we can work closely with our experienced colleagues in the conveyancing team, who will be able to act for you in its sale. This reduces the amount of time you will need to spend dealing with the estate, as both the estate administration and the property sale is dealt with together by the same firm.
How we help you
We can do as much or as little as you need us to do to help you through this difficult and emotional time. During a free initial meeting, either over the telephone or in person, we will be able to guide you in the right direction as to what is needed to administer the estate properly. You decide what you want us to do on your behalf.
NB: timescales and fees are subject to change – please ask for details.