It is always a sad and difficult time when someone passes away and the legal issues that arise following a death can often be complex.

Engaging the services of a solicitor means that you can be confident in receiving accurate and useful advice from a qualified, trained and regulated legal professional.

At Edmondson Hall Solicitors we are experienced in advising on succession law and in undertaking the administration of the estates of deceased persons.

Consider the following key benefits of using a solicitor when someone has died:-

To ease the pressure and responsibility

The law requires that someone is appointed to administer the legal affairs of a deceased person. That person could be named in the last Will of the deceased, or be entitled to carry out that role under the government rules that apply in a situation where there is no Will. That person is referred to as the ‘personal representative’.

Consulting a solicitor as to who the personal representative actually is or should be and what their responsibilities are can clarify the position and thereby help to reduce the pressure associated with undertaking the administration of the estate.

To ensure the estate is preserved from loss

One of the most important tasks in administering an estate is to find details of everything that the deceased owned, the overall value of the estate less any debts and to ensure as far as is reasonably possible, that the individual assets in the estate, such as land and property, are adequately protected and insured from risk. Failure to do so could result in the personal representative being held personally liable for any loss caused to the estate by not taking reasonable steps to preserve it.

A solicitor can advise the personal representative on how to go about investigating the value of the estate and what measures to take to protect it and themselves from misfortune.

To follow the correct process

Even when it appears relatively straightforward as to who the personal representative of an estate should be, that position may be contested by the persons entitled to benefit under succession law. These persons are known as the ‘beneficiaries’ of the estate and it is sometimes the case that the beneficiaries cannot get on with the personal representative, resulting in the estate becoming very difficult if not impossible to administer.

The personal representative is responsible for identifying the beneficiaries of the estate and also for making an accurate tax return to HMRC in the event that tax is payable and/or where a Grant of Representation to prove their authority to administer the estate is required.

Using a solicitor to advise on these issues can provide the personal representative with the peace of mind that they are following the correct process, the correct tax (if any) has been paid, with all relevant tax reliefs having been claimed and that the deceased’s estate has been properly administered according to the relevant laws of succession.

Stephen Roberts

September 2018