What to do when someone dies
When a person passes away it is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information and responsibilities given to you. You should break down each step to make the process more manageable. The first being things that require immediate action or have a short deadline. There are 3 things you should do as soon as possible,
- Get a medical certificate from a GP or Hospital
- Register the death– this should be done within 5 days, you will need the Medical Certificate in order to do this. When you register the death they will provide you with the documents you need to arrange the funeral.
- Arrange the funeral– you can use a funeral director or arrange it by yourself.
Other tasks that you may wish to do sooner rather than later include securing the deceased’s property and locating a will. Once you have located a will or established that there isn’t one you should start to look into the administration of the persons estate by collecting information about their assets which will indicate whether you will need to apply for probate.
Locating a will
A will should name an executor whose role and responsibility is to protect and manage the estate. Therefore before you start dealing with the deceased’s paperwork and assets you should look for a will to establish that you are in fact the correct person to be handling the Estate. If you locate a will and you are not named as the executor you should inform the person named and pass on any relevant information and paperwork you have so that they can perform their role.
Unless the deceased had already told you were their will was located in may not be obvious where you should look. You should start by looking through their personal paperwork as some people will keep the original Will at home. You will need the original will to apply for probate. It is also common for people to have a copy of their will amongst their paperwork but not the original, the copy may provide you with an indication of where the original is being held, whether that be a solicitor, bank or elsewhere.
If you can not locate a will or believe there may be a more recent version than the one you have found you should start to look towards other options. You can search to see if a will has been made or updated using Certainty The National Will Register. Certainty have access to a register of millions of Will registrations but can also search nationally for wills that have not been registered.
If a will can still not be located then the Rules of Intestacy would be applied and the next of kin would become the administrators of the estate and be responsible for the administration.
Secure the property
When a property is empty it is much more vulnerable to break ins and vandalism you should secure the property as soon as possible, it is the responsibility of the executor of the estate to ensure they have done everything they can to protect the assets in the estate. Make sure all the windows and doors are locked and unnecessary electrical devices are turned off. If there are items of value, for example jewelry, antiques, collections etc they should be removed from the property for safe keeping so that they can be distributed to the correct beneficiaries at a later date.
It is advisable to make a record of what assets were in the property and where they have gone so that items do not get lost and can be accounted for in the estates accounts.