Why Use A Solicitor When Someone Dies

With increased used of the internet and the amount of information available online people often think that there is no need to use a solicitor when someone dies. Following a death, however, there are a number of practical and technical matters which have to be dealt with. These can be upsetting and onerous for the recently bereaved and the use of a solicitor can help to lighten the load at an extremely difficult time.

Here are just some of the matters on which solicitors can offer advice and assistance in such circumstances:-

  • The validity and effect of a Will

A solicitor will be able to advise about the whether the will is valid, particularly if it is a home made will. Wills can now be quite complex containing trusts to take into account business interest and/or children from second marriages for example. A solicitor will be able to advise how such trusts should be set up and administered.

  • The Intestacy Rules if there is no Will

Many people still die without leaving a will and even if someone dies leaving a spouse or civil partner, other people may still be entitled to their assets under the Intestacy Rules. A solicitor is able to advise who gets what in these circumstances and offer practical solutions to prevent families from falling out.

  • Obtaining a Grant of Probate

When someone dies the assets are frozen until a Grant of Probate (when there is a will) or Grant of Letters of Administration (when there is no will) is issued by the Probate Registry. The procedure to obtain the Grant varies depending upon the size of the estate but will usually require the filing of an Inland Revenue form and another document called The Oath For Executors. The forms are quite complex and using a solicitor can streamline this process and avoid the need of an interview at the local Probate Registry.

  • Calculating and Paying Inheritance Tax

If an estate exceeds the nil rate band (currently £325,000) then inheritance tax may be payable at 40% depending upon the exemptions and reliefs which are available. A solicitor will be able to provide advice about reducing the inheritance tax liability such as the use of the transferrable nil rate band. This enables the unused nil rate band of a spouse or civil partner who has previously died to be used against the survivor’s estate. A solicitor is also able to explain how some inheritance tax may be paid in instalments rather than having to be funded immediately.

  • Dealing with Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax

As well as dealing with the inheritance tax position it is necessary to finalise the income tax and capital gains tax when someone dies and solicitors are experienced at dealing with these issues.

  • Varying the Will

A solicitor will be able to advise on whether the will can be changed and prepare the appropriate documentation. This is sometimes necessary to change the distribution of the estate or to reduce the amount of inheritance tax being paid.

  • Disputes between Beneficiaries

Sadly disputes between beneficiaries are becoming increasingly common as people’s life styles become ever more complicated. A solicitor will be able to provide timely advice and can prevent such disputes escalating resulting in permanent family fractures.

It can be hard to cope when someone close to you dies. Often seeing a solicitor will help provide the legal expertise needed at this time.

For more detailed information please contact Andrew Fleming on 01473 230033 or emailarf@blockslegal.co.uk

The above is general comment only and individual advice should be taken.