Steps to Take After a Death

If you have been named the executor of a will, it is your responsibility to administer the estate. The process begins immediately upon death and continues until all assets are valued, taxes and debts paid, and the possessions and property distributed to the beneficiaries. Dealing with the loss of a loved one, family member or friend can be very difficult. While you are dealing with your grief, you may also have legal matters to attend to. If the person wrote a will, you have some guidance to help you carry out their wishes.

The first steps include registering the death, obtaining copies of the death certificate, and locating the deceased’s will. A will may be found in the house, with the solicitor who provided will writing services, and you can even search for a will online. The executor is generally named in the will. If there is no executor named in the will or there was no will, administrators will need to be appointed to administer the estate.

The probate forms need to be obtained and completed with detailed information about the estate. In order to do this, the executor will have to secure the deceased’s property, valuables, assets, and other possessions. You will need to be organized to gather all the money, property, and information to accurately value all assets and outstanding debts.

A grant of probate is often required, as the document provides the authority the executors need to gain access to bank accounts, stocks and shares, and other assets. Before you can be issued a grant of probate, any inheritance tax due on the estate will have to be paid. Estates valued above the nil rate band of £325,000 or £650,000 for married couples is subject to inheritance tax.

Executors are not expected to pay the tax from their own money. As the executor, you may be able to access money from the deceased’s accounts or sell some of the personal property to raise the money needed to pay the tax. The probate solicitors in Potters Bar at SCL Wills and Probate guide executors through the process.

Once the grant of probate is received, copies should be sent to banks and other organizations. This gives the executors the ability to access the deceased’s assets, transfer funds, close accounts, and perform other duties, as needed, during the probate process.

After the assets are collected, it is the executor’s job to pay any outstanding debts owed by the estate. This may include unpaid taxes, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, loans, and other debts. You will need to locate information about outstanding debts and advertising for creditors may be necessary.

Any taxes owed must be paid, including income tax for the final year of the person’s life. The executors must complete an income tax return or repayment claim form with details of estate income during that year. Any income tax due must be paid before the money and property is distributed to the beneficiaries of the will.

Acting as an executor is a big job. Depending on the size of the estate, the administration can be complex and time-consuming. It can be helpful to seek the advice of probate and estate planning solicitors in Potters Bar. An experienced probate solicitor can guide you through the process and make sure that all required forms are completed and requirements met.


When writing a will, an individual can name a person or group of people to supervise the actions of administering the estate. After the death of the testator, the executor or administrator must locate the will and present it to the local probate court along with a certified copy of the testator’s death certificate. Whoever has possession of the will must submit it to the executor of the estate, or submit it directly to the probate court within the period allotted by the state. A will takes effect when you die. It can cover things like how your assets will be shared, who will look after your children if they are still young, what trusts you want to be established, how much money you’d like donated to charities and even instructions about your funeral.


The probate process officially begins when the will is submitted to the court. The court officially appoints an executor — normally the individual named in the will — to administer the estate, and supplies legal documents known as letters testamentary, or letters of administration, allowing the executor to take control of the testator’s probate property. Items that don’t go through probate can include joint property and insurance or retirement accounts that pass directly to named beneficiaries.

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