Dealing with death in the family

A family bereavement is of course a dreadfully unpleasant period which is often complicated by some very strong emotions. And, as if things weren’t difficult enough, you’ll probably feel there are many decisions to make and arrangements to manage. In addition, you’ll no doubt encounter questions about “the Will” at some point. What if there isn’t one, what if there is one, and what if there is one but you can’t find it?

At least, when you need legal support, you can rely on QualitySolicitors.

When the worst happens, those left behind have an often-bewildering assortment of responsibilities which can cause confusion and stress at a time when you perhaps just feel the world could leave you to grieve.

A person’s death must usually be registered by taking the deceased’s medical certificate to a Register Office within five days, and if you go to your local Register Office you’ll be given a certificate of registration of death (you’ll need this death certificate to administrate paperwork such as pensions and/or benefits) and a certificate for burial or cremation (sometimes known as the ‘green certificate’ or the ‘green form’).

You’ll also need one or more copies of the death certificate because organisations such as council services, banks and utility services may need one in order to close accounts and the like.

In fact, there may be a bewildering amount of organisations that need to be informed of a person’s death (a more in-depth list is featured in our ‘Death in the Family’ Frequently Asked Questions), although you may not be the person designated to do this because if the deceased has left a Will then they’ll almost certainly have named an executor to deal with the legal arrangements that follow their death.

A Will is of course a legal document that should clearly define how a person’s estate (the assets they owned) is to be allocated upon their death.

An executor is simply the person named in the Will who is responsible for assisting in whatever processes have to be taken in order to fulfil the terms of the Will.

In practice, the executor will usually liaise with a solicitor in order to fulfil the terms of the Will. The solicitor will take care of any legalities, while the executor will often give practical assistance such as contacting organisations (such as banks, HMRC, creditors) as well as other people named in the Will as beneficiaries.

The executor and solicitor often work together. For example, a bank would (not unreasonably) need proof that an executor has the authority to close someone else’s account and would ask to see an official document known as a grant of representation, which can of course be drawn up by a solicitor.

So as you can see, if you’ve been named as an executor then you have a very responsible part to play, and you’ll certainly benefit from having a legal adviser who is understanding and accessible (there’s not much point in having a solicitor who is difficult to get hold of, and then isn’t particularly interested in you when you can get hold of him).

If you are named as an executor, then contact QualitySolicitors and we can help make this process to be as trouble-free as possible. As well as being understanding and accessible, we’ll also talk to you about our price for the work we’ll be doing before we do it; so with QualitySolicitors our upfront price promise means needn’t worry about what the final legal bill might be.

Perhaps you’re not even sure whether you need a solicitor?

In that case, you’re probably worrying that if you do phone a solicitor up then you’ll be charged for a chat you may not actually need in the first place?

Well, please rest assured that it won’t cost you anything to contact QualitySolicitors because we offer Free Initial Assessment. We don’t charge anyone for calling us to see if they need a solicitor, because to be honest we don’t think it would be fair to charge someone who was just trying to find out more information about our services.

If you call us on 08082747557 then one of our friendly efficient legal assistants will listen and advise you for free on what your next steps could be. We think someday all law firms will work this way.

Then, if we can help you, we can offer you our Ask the Legal Expert service, which is a 45-minute face-to-face chat with a QualitySolicitors lawyer for only £99.

And after that, if appointing a solicitor is the right thing to do, then QualitySolicitors will price up the cost of the work that you need us to do.

If a person has died ‘intestate’ (without a Will), then the law will be applied to administer the estate, without the need for an executor. In this case, contact us and we can carefully explain everything that will happen next.

A chat with a QualitySolicitors lawyer should clarify any queries you might have (our Ask the Legal Expert service only costs £99), and many people have told us that our sympathetic clear advice at least gave them peace of mind during their difficult time.

If you know the deceased has written a Will, but you can’t locate it, then it may have been lodged with a solicitor, bank, relative, close friend, a Will safe service or the Principal Probate Registry. You may discover some reference to one of these organisations when you check through personal papers.


What to do next

Most people looking for legal advice after a death in the family begin by calling QualitySolicitors for our Free Initial Assessment service, where they can discuss what their concerns are with one of our legal assistants.

After doing that, you may wish to book an “Ask a Legal Expert” meeting where you’ll benefit from a 45-minute session of proper face-to-face legal advice on their particular situation; for only £99.

If you want to know how our business law expertise can work in your favour, then give us a call on 08082747557 or request a callback.

Click here to see the steps involved in estate administration.


Click here to view our Estate Administration & Wills Glossary

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With QualitySolicitors your first initial assessment is free, so you can call us without worrying about being charged for a call you might not have actually needed to make. And because we place our clients are at the heart of everything we do, we make these five customer service promises to make sure you'll feel properly looked after.

This is why, in the first instance, most people looking for legal help in relation to a 'Home And Property' call QualitySolicitors for a Free Initial Assessment over the phone before requesting our Ask the Legal Expert service; which is an introductory 45-minute face-to-face consultation for £99.