When a person dies, their estate has to be dealt with. If there is a Will, the estate is administered according to the provisions within it – if possible.
A Will appoints executors and trustees: the people chosen to deal with their affairs. Those people are not obliged, or indeed may not be able, to take up the role. In this case, other people or professionals have to be appointed.
If there is no Will, a person dies intestate. The estate is administered in accordance with the laws of intestacy. These are the rules that govern who is to receive the proceeds of the estate. The beneficiaries, (those who will ultimately inherit) are able to administer the estate, or again, professionals can be appointed. They will be known as the personal representative(s).
When a family suffers the loss of a loved one, emotions run high. Dealing with the estate can be a daunting task, particularly when an estate is complex, large and varied. There may be assets abroad, various portfolios, businesses and properties to deal with, as well as beneficiaries scattered around the globe.
In all cases, and before the beneficiaries receive their inheritance, the assets and liabilities have to be identified and valued. Inheritance tax forms must be lodged with HM Revenue and Customs, and if necessary, inheritance tax has to be paid. With the experience we have, our team will be careful to minimise inheritance and capital gains taxes wherever possible.
A grant of probate, or letters of administration if there is no Will, may have to be obtained from the court before the assets can be collected. We will draft the documentation required to make the application.
Once the court has granted probate – the official document which confirms that the Will is proven and an estate can be completed; the debts due to and from the estate are paid and received. There may be assets abroad, investments, businesses and properties which need to be sold or transferred. Consideration will be made to any capital gains implications and income tax payable. If required, trusts are set up in accordance with the Will, prior to making the distributions to the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries may also wish to vary the Will so as to manage their own inheritance tax implications.
There may sadly be rifts in the family or claims made against the estate which require more in depth legal assistance which we can help manage and resolve.
Whatever the size or complexity of an estate, our team is specialised, experienced, and sensitive to the family’s needs at such a difficult time.