What to do when someone dies

Tees can advise on most issues relating to wills, trusts, tax and probate. We can help you plan for your future, or provide sound legal guidance about those you care about. We're also here to guide you through the legal process after someone has died.

Get in touch or call us on 0800 013 1165

What to do first

Death is never easy to cope with - whether the person who has died is a close family member or friend, or even if the person is someone you don’t know well. Depending on what has happened, if you are present when someone dies, or you discover that someone has died, straightaway you should phone: 

  • the person’s doctor or health visitor if they were ill and their death was expected
  • the emergency services if you suspect that something unusual has occurred or the person’s death was not expected
  • family and friends of the person; if you don’t have their numbers, you may find them written down in the person’s home. 

Who can make legal decisions in the event of a death?

The people who are likely to be able to make decisions, such as what happens to the deceased’s body, are:

  • Executor of the estate – this is the person named in the will (if there is one) to handle the deceased affairs which need settling  
  • The person’s husband or wife or civil partner
  • Adult children

One of these people should look for a will or the contact details of the deceased’s solicitor.  If you cannot find this information, you should contact a local solicitor, who will be able to help with the next steps. The executor or family members will need to arrange a funeral.  Funeral directors often help with administrative requirements such as registering the death with the local authority.   

Obtain a death certificate

Once the death is registered the executor can get copies of the death certificate. These are needed to share with the relevant authorities, to distribute any assets to beneficiaries and close the deceased’s accounts. 

Probate services

Executors will usually need to obtain a Grant of Probate in order to administer the estate. Estate administration includes organising and distributing the deceased person’s money, assets and possessions –after paying any taxes and debts. If you're named in a will as the executor and now have to administer the estate, you might find this process stressful and difficult, especially if you are upset about the death of the person concerned.

Call Tees and a specialist probate solicitor can guide you through the process from start to finish. Our experts can take the practical responsibilities off your hands, because we understand estate administration inside out. We can take the whole task on, or we can just do a few elements – it’s your choice.

Probate costs

It’s a good idea to talk to estate administration solicitors to give you an idea of costs. For many people it really pays to have the probate process handled by solicitors specialising in wills and trusts.  Unless the estate is extremely simple, with hardly any assets, a specialist will be able to do it more quickly and take the stress and hassle away from you.  The probate fee is part of the costs that the estate must settle before the remaining assets are distributed, therefore there is no upfront fee to pay.

Whatever you need and whenever you need it, our team is here to help. Call us now for a confidential chat, and we'll show you how we can help.

Deed of variation

A deed of variation is a legal document that enables someone to give money that they have inherited in someone's will, to another person. It’s your choice if you want to do this and it can reduce your tax bill.

International estate planning

Our team of international probate solicitors, are experts in international law and managing international estates. We understand how different legal systems impact the regulations in other legal systems so we can help you to make sense of it.  Any fixed assets you have abroad, such as a house, fall under the laws of that country and become your international estate. We can help you with:

  • Global wills
  • Resealing foreign grants of representation
  • UK grants of representation of a foreign will
  • Succession planning when you have assets abroad

Call our Wills and Probate solicitors on 0800 013 1165

For an initial chat, at no obligation, or fill out our enquiry form and a solicitor will get in touch.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a grant of representation?

This is a generic term covering official documentation that proves that you have the right to manage the estate of the deceased.  If there is a named executor, they usually submit an application for grant of probate.  If there is a valid Will but the named executors are unable or unwilling to act, then letters of administration with Will annexed will need to be obtained. If there was no will, then letters of administration will need to be obtained. Letters of administration with Will annexed and letters of administration serve similar function to that of the grant of probate. Grant of representation is the phrase that covers all three phrases. 

The document itself, and sometimes the process of getting it from the Court and using it to administer the estate, can often be referred to as probate.

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What is probate?

When someone dies, probate is the process of managing and passing on their property, money and other assets to others, once any debts, taxes and other costs have been paid. If the deceased person made a will, they will have named someone to carry out these tasks. That person is known as the Will's executor.

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Can I make a claim against an estate?

People who may be able to claim against an estate under the Inheritance Act 1975 include:

  • wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased
  • former wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased
  • unmarried cohabiting partner of the deceased 
  • biological children or grandchildren of the deceased
  • anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased.

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