Step 1 The Death Certificate
Step 2 Inheritance Tax
Step 3 Probate
Step 4 Collect in money and settle debts
Finally then, you will be in a position to carry out the wishes in the will.
What do you need to do to sort out the money?
Institutions to contact
There is a very useful list on the website MoneySavingExpert suggesting who you need to contact at this stage.
Get in touch with every organisation: banks, building societies, mobile phone company, pension companies, utilities, landlords… the list is very big. Absolutely everyone who had some sort of financial dealings with the deceased.
The Death Notification Service can notify banks and building societies that are part of the scheme. Click on the link to see which banks. It is a free service and may save a lot of individual interactions with the banks and building societies.
Then close all accounts.
If you are planning in advance, I have published a handbook called To My Executor to try to make this stage a little easier. It provides a place for someone, who will ask you to be their executor, to record all the organisations that you will need to contact. Otherwise the whole process can feel like you are a private detective trying to work out which organisations are involved.
When you contact, say, a bank, ask to talk to their death department.
Get access to financial assets
The government says that:
You can ask for financial assets to be transferred to an agreed ‘executorship account’. This can be either:
- an executor’s bank account
- an account that’s been set up only for dealing with the estate
Debts to pay
Before you can distribute the estate, you need to ensure all debts are settled.
To ensure no debts surface after you have distributed the estate, you can place a Deceased Estates Notice in the Gazette, Official Public Record for £87.50.
The website explains ‘Should a notice not be placed, and a creditor subsequently comes forward after the estate has been distributed, then you may have some personal liability for an unidentified debt.’
They also recommend that ‘If the estate includes a property, a notice should also be put in a newspaper that is local to the property.’
(If the person whose estate you will be administering is still alive)
I will leave you with a question:
Could you have a conversation with the person who has asked you to be their executor and gain a clear understanding of where information is about all their financial comings and goings?
That one difficult conversation may save you days of trouble later; it may also help give the will writer a nudge into making sure their finances are in as good order as possible, to help them while they still need the money.
The estate is everything owned by the person before they died.
NB The information in this blog is not legal guidance. It is what I have found while researching to compile a handbook called ‘To My Executor’ that I hope may help families make dealing with death a little easier practically. It applies to England and Wales.