Legal help with winding up a loved one's estate
When a loved one dies, dealing with their affairs and the property they leave behind can be an incredibly difficult task, not only emotionally but also logistically. The legal process that needs to be followed in Scotland is called executry (which is also known as probate south of the border). Our solicitors have been guiding clients through this process for many years and are ready to help.
What is an executor?
An executor is the person appointed to organise and manage the affairs of a deceased person. The executor is in effect the representative of the deceased. Executors are either appointed by the deceased according to the terms of their Will, or appointed by the court if there is no Will (dying without a Will is known as intestacy). Whichever way an executor is appointed, they need to get approval from the court, known as Confirmation, to start dealing with the deceased’s estate. The estate is everything the deceased has left behind, including finances, property, belongings and debts.
What does an executor do?
An executor has several responsibilities, including:
- making funeral arrangements;
- compiling a full, comprehensive inventory of all the deceased’s property;
- applying to the court for Confirmation, which is the authority to gather together all the money and other property of the estate, and then administer and distribute it (this involves submitting the inventory and other relevant paperwork to the court);
- in-gathering the estate once Confirmation has been granted, which involves obtaining payments from banks and other organisations that owe or hold money on behalf of the deceased;
- paying the Inheritance Tax due, the exact amount depends on the size of the estate and any gifts made within seven years of the death;
- settling all the deceased’s debts and outstanding bills; and
- distributing money and belongings to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the Will or intestacy rules, but not until six months after the date of death – this is to allow organisations or individuals to make claims on the estate.
How can a solicitor help?
Executors are subject to legal duties and tight deadlines, and all that is involved in the role, from compiling the inventory to in-gathering and distribution, is often very time-consuming. Crucially, executors are held personally liable for mistakes they make. A solicitor can make sure an executor avoids errors, lightening the burden during a difficult time, while also helping them to manage and meet their responsibilities. Solicitors can therefore be especially helpful if the estate is large or complex, or if complications arise such as the debts of the estate being greater than the assets, or if surviving family members fall out over the estate. As legal fees count towards an executor’s expenses, the cost of legal advice and assistance can usually be recouped out of the estate at no personal cost to the executor.
Expert Executry/Probate Advice Scotland
The death of a family member or friend is always a difficult time. We therefore aim to take care of all matters arising from the person’s death in a sympathetic, speedy and efficient manner.
We handle all matters in connection with estates, including helping executors to:
- compile the inventory and get valuations;
- calculate and pay Inheritance Tax liabilities (if any);
- get Confirmation (i.e. probate) from the Sheriff Court;
- in-gather the estate;
- pay any unpaid bills, funeral expenses and legacies;
- interpret the Will;
- sort out legacies of specific items;
- assist with claims made on the estate, whether by creditors or surviving relatives;
- make all arrangements for selling or transferring assets; and
- make payments to residuary beneficiaries.
Contact Davidson & Shirley Executry/Probate Solicitors in Lanark, Hamilton, Strathaven, Barrhead, East Kilbride, Neilson & Newton Mearns, Scotland
Our private client solicitors provide effective legal advice and assistance to clients in Lanark, Hamilton, Motherwell, Glasgow, Carluke, Wishaw, Livingston, Strathaven, Edinburgh, Stirling and throughout Scotland. Contact us today on 01555 662576 for executry advice or fill out our online enquiry form.