Introduction to dealing with finances after a death
When someone dies the 'executor' (if there is a will) or 'administrator' (if there is no will) normally sorts out their finances and then distributes what's left according to the will or the laws of intestacy. In some cases an executor or administrator may not be needed.
Who can help you?
If you're acting as executor or administrator it's advisable to speak to the deceased person's solicitor and accountant if they had one.
Whether or not you get help from a solicitor, to be able to deal with the deceased person's affairs, and access funds, you'll normally need to apply to the Probate Registry for a 'Grant of Probate' or 'Letters of Administration'.
You have one year from the date of the deceased's death to sort out the estate before distributing it. After a year, you could become liable to pay interest on any undistributed assets.
Bear in mind that all bills, debts and taxes have to be settled before you can share out the deceased person's remaining money, property and possessions.
Financial documents you'll need
Some of the documents you will need to find include the deceased person's:
- tax and National Insurance affairs
- bank, building society and savings' accounts and certificates
- stocks and shares
- state and private pensions
- state benefits
- car, health, home and life insurance policies
- utility bills
- other unpaid bills
- property deeds
- mortgage payments
- rent payments
- credit card and store card payments
- loan payments and other formal debts
If the deceased was self-employed or a business partner you will also need to collect together any documents relating to their business.
Accessing the deceased's money
Normally only the executor or administrator will have access to the deceased's money and you will need various documents to do this. However, there are some exceptions.
The deceased's tax affairs
Some estates have to pay Inheritance Tax. Some or all of this must be paid before the court will issue a Grant of Probate of Letters of Administration.
The deceased may also be owed a tax rebate, or may have to pay some tax.
If you sell the deceased's property or other assets at a gain (profit) Capital Gains Tax will be payable if the gain above the market value at the date of death (not the date of acquisition) exceeds the current Capital Gains Tax threshold.
- Capital Gains Tax (CGT) (money, tax and benefits section)
- Inheritance Tax (money, tax and benefits section)
Other payments you may have to make
You may also need to pay:
- rent or mortgage on the deceased's home
- funeral costs
- any outstanding bills
- formal debts owed by the deceased
- insurance on the deceased's home
- other payments to protect the estate assets
- What happens to debts when someone dies? (money, tax and benefits section)
Money you may be able to collect
Money owed to a deceased person is part of their estate. You may be able to claim:
- tax rebates
- life insurance
- money from pension schemes
- money from lost or forgotten pensions and savings
- capital from the deceased's business
- formal debts owing to them
However, any informal loans made by the deceased don't have to be repaid by the borrower.
Arranging your finances before you die
It's advisable to sort out your finances and make a will. This will save your surviving relatives additional distress when you die and make sure that your money, property and possessions are shared out as you want.