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15 March 2017

Dealing with the death of a loved one: The practical aspects

The death of a loved one is a difficult time. As well as dealing with grief and emotions, there can be a great deal to organise by way of funeral arrangements, registering the death and dealing with the deceased's finances.

Whilst it is not compulsory to instruct a lawyer to administer a deceased person’s estate, it is strongly recommended that you take expert advice.  Over many years, the specialist private client team at Steeles Law has experienced families trying to deal with complex estates by themselves with no professional advisers – until it is too late.

Scenario One

Mr A died having made no Will.  His two children inherited the estate jointly and administered it.  Mr A’s assets included a London property, which was sold by the children sometime after their mother’s death.  The property in London had increased substantially in value from the date of death valuation to the date it was sold.  This gave rise to a large capital gains tax liability.

With the appropriate legal advice, the children could have planned for such a tax liability and considered their options sooner, rather than later.  The associated worry and stress for the family could have been eased with a professional adviser.

Scenario Two

When Mr B made his Will many years ago, the best inheritance tax advice at the time was to include a trust within his Will.  Mr B died in 2013.  His executors did not take legal advice.  They distributed all of Mr B’s estate to Mrs B, ignoring the trust within the Will.

Trusts in Wills can appear complex but should not be ignored.  If the executors had instructed probate lawyers when Mr B died, they would have been made aware of the inheritance tax position and advised on their options and other planning opportunities, as appropriate.  All of the necessary paperwork could have been drafted and the trust amended or wound up to best suit the family circumstances, in accordance with the law.  Furthermore, when Mrs B died three years later, we would have been able to produce the information to administer her estate quickly and efficiently, rather than having to sort out the consequences of Mr B’s estate first.

We could go on – scenario three involves the warring siblings of the late Mr C, where an impartial professional lawyer would have been useful from the outset; scenario four is about the estate of Mrs D, whose homemade Will was not clear and unintentionally left her son without inheritance; scenario five…etc.

Steeles Law has an experienced, professional but caring team of Wills and probate solicitors and legal advisers who advise on all aspects of administering a loved one’s estate.  We can take the burden of responsibility away from the family at such a difficult time.

Don’t be another scenario and take specialist legal advice.