When someone dies, it can be a very stressful and traumatic experience. In most cases, relatives or close friends of the deceased will deal with the funeral and obtaining the death certificate. In other cases, your solicitor can help contact the undertakers and arrange for the death to be registered.
Did the deceased leave a Will?
The Will generally appoints at least two executors, one of whom is normally a solicitor, to deal with the assets of the estate in accordance with the deceased's wishes. The executors should always seek advice from a solicitor about the steps taken.
What if there is no Will?
In this case, it is usually necessary to apply to the local Sheriff Court who will appoint executors (who will normally be close relatives of the deceased). A solicitor will have to be instructed to prepare paperwork for the Court. The executors then have to divide the estate according to the rules of "Intestate Succession" i.e. special rules which determine the relatives who are entitled to inherit the estate.
What happens next?
The Executors prepare an Inventory of all the assets in the estate e.g. bank accounts, house (or half share in a house), motor car, pension, life policies etc. The Inventory will be done by a solicitor, signed by one of the Executors and then lodged in Court. The Court will then issue "Confirmation" i.e. probate. This document is the title of the Executors to deal with the estate. After confirmation is granted the assets are then ingathered i.e. bank accounts are closed, shares are sold etc. The proceeds of the estate are then distributed in accordance with the Will or, where there is no Will, to those entitled to receive a share under the rules of "Intestate Succession".
What are the costs?
This can vary enormously according to the size and complexity of the estate. At andersonbain we can however give you a very accurate indication at the outset of what the cost is likely to be.