What do I do first?

The death of a loved one can cause a great deal of emotional stress and trauma. In addition there is the task of dealing with the deceased’s financial and legal affairs.

At Macks, the first steps that we would suggest that you take are:

  • Collect the “Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death” from the Doctor on the ward or family GP or the Coroners Office. This will be required before you can register the death.
  • Make an appointment at the Register Office for the area in which the deceased died or, if available, at the hospital where the death took place. James Cook University Hospital has an on-site registrar four days a week.

The death must be registered within 5 days.

The following people can register a death:

  • A relative – usually the closest
  • Someone present at the time of death
  • Someone who is organising the funeral

At the appointment the Registrar will ask for the Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death, the deceased’s birth certificate, marriage/civil partnership certificate and NHS card.

You will be asked to confirm the deceased’s full name (and maiden name if applicable), date and place of birth, last address, occupation, the full name, address, occupation and date of birth of any surviving spouse/civil partner, tax reference number and whether he/she was in receipt of any state pension or benefit.

The Registrar will produce, free of charge:

  1. A Certificate for burial or cremation – Form 9 – known as a “green form”. This gives permission for a burial or cremation to take place and needs to be given to the funeral director.
  1. A Certificate of Registration of Death – Form BD8 – known as a “white form”. This needs to be completed and posted to the local Jobcentre Plus or social security office to claim any arrears of state pension or benefit.

You will sign the Register and confirm all the information is correct. The Registrar will produce an official copy of the entry in the Register of Deaths known as a Death Certificate. The fee is £4.00 at this stage. For copies requested at a later date this fee increases to £7.00. A death certificate will be required by pension providers, banks, building societies and financial institutions so it is easier and cheaper to obtain copies at the time of registration.

  • Arrange the funeral

The funeral cannot be arranged until the death has been registered.

Are you aware of any specific instructions regarding the funeral arrangements or wishes for donating the body or organs or tissues? These may be set out in the Will or Letter of Wishes to be found with the Will.

Did the deceased leave any funeral plan? Reference may be made in the Will or the document may be lodged with the Will or the deceased’s Solicitor.

Make an appointment to see a funeral director at home or at their premises.

Choosing a funeral firm can be difficult and it is unusual to ask for a quote or ring round for quotes. If you have no guidance from the deceased as to which funeral director to use, you could ask relatives and friends for their recommendations or choose a funeral director who is a member of:

  • The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
  • Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors

At Macks we have a list of local funeral firms ranging from small local firms to large regional and national organisations.

  • Make an appointment to see a specialist solicitor at Macks to discuss the steps you need to take to administer the deceased’s property, bank accounts and investments (their “Estate”).

Probate Costs

The death of someone close to you can be a very difficult and distressing experience; dealing with the formalities of obtaining the correct Grant of Representation and administering the Estate is something we can help you with.  

There are two main stages to dealing with the estate of a deceased person; obtaining the correct Grant and then administering the Estate itself.  We can assist you with either or both of these, depending on your needs.

Applying for a Grant of Representation

Which Grant you need to apply for depends on whether the deceased has left a Will.  If there is a Will, then the Executors named in the Will need to apply for a “Grant of Probate”.   If there is no Will, then an application will need to be made for a “Grant of Letters of Administration” with one or more people named as Administrators.  

What we will do for you

Meet with you to discuss the position and advise you in relation to
o The provisions in the deceased’s Will or what will happen if there is no Will (known as Intestacy).
o The role of the Executors or Administrators
o The assets and liabilities of the deceased and what needs to be done to identify any assets or liabilities you are unsure about
o The Inheritance Tax position in relation to the estate, transferable nil rate bands and whether there are any reliefs or allowances which may affect the inheritance tax payable.
Preparing Inheritance Tax forms
Preparing the Oath for Executors or Oath for Administrators, meeting with you to go through these and arranging for them to be formally sworn
Submitting the application for the Grant to the Court.

It will usually take around 6 to 8 weeks to obtain a Grant of Representation.

Administering the Estate

Once the Grant of Representation has been received from the Court, we can act for you in the administration of the estate.  

What we will do for you

Collect the assets of the estate, including liaising with companies such as banks on your behalf
Ascertain the deceased’s income tax position
Ascertain and pay the liabilities and administration costs of the estate
Deal with the Revenue in relation to the Inheritance Tax position and plan payment of any tax due.
Correspond with beneficiaries of the estate
Pay any legacies and/or interim distributions in accordance with your instructions
Prepare the estate accounts and provide them for your approval
Carry out any bankruptcy or other checks necessary
Pay the final distribution of the estate

The timescale for administering the estate will take longer than obtaining the Grant of Representation, and will depend upon the extent of the assets which need to be collected.  In some circumstances it may also be prudent for the Executors to delay the final distribution of the estate to protect themselves from any claims on the estate.

If the estate assets are relatively straightforward, and you do not think that any potential claims are likely, then the administration could be concluded within 8 to 12 weeks from receipt of the Grant of Representation.  If, for example, the estate includes a property which is to be sold, then the timescale will be longer as the sale will need to be concluded before the administration can be finalised.

What the work will cost you

If you would prefer to administer the estate yourself and only require our assistance in obtaining the official Grant itself, then we can do this for you at a fixed fee.  

We will charge you £600 plus VAT for our legal costs in doing this.

We will also need to make the following additional payments to others:-

Commissioners Fee for swearing the Executors Oath – £5 plus £2 for additional documents (e.g. will of codicil) per executor
Probate Court fee – £155
Additional copies of the Grant of Probate – £0.50 each; we recommend obtaining a copy for each asset in the estate.

If you would like us to administer the estate in addition to obtaining the Grant, then our costs will be based upon the time it takes us and the value of the estate.  This is calculated on the basis of an hourly rate of £180 plus VAT and a charge of 1% of the value of the estate.  We guarantee that our own fees will never be more than 3% of the value of the estate, regardless of how much time we have to spend dealing with the estate.

Example costs

For a straightforward estate where the following apply:-

There is a valid will
There is no more than one property
The only other assets are bank accounts and personal possessions
The estate is below the inheritance tax threshold (current threshold – £325,000)
There are no more than 5 beneficiaries
There are no disputes or claims in relation to the estate

Our usual costs would be between £3,000 and £4,000plus VAT

For an estate where the following apply:-

There is a valid will
There are no business assets
Inheritance Tax is payable, but the total value of the estate is below £1.2 million.
There are no disputes or claims in relation to the estate

Our usual costs would be between £4,000 and £8,000plus VAT

In addition, we would need to make the following additional payments to others:-

Commissioners Fee for swearing the Executors Oath – £5 plus £2 for additional documents (e.g. will of codicil) per executor
Probate Court fee – £155
Additional copies of the Grant of Probate – £0.50 each; we recommend obtaining a copy for each asset in the estate.

In some estates it might be appropriate to take out advertisements in the local papers and/or an official notice in the London Gazette.  These would cost between £20 and £100 for an advertisement in the local paper and £62.50 plus VAT for a notice in the London Gazette.

Services not included

If there are any challenges to the validity of the Will or claims against the estate, these would not be included in the administration costs and we would normally refer you to our sister company, Watson Woodhouse, who deal with contested probate matters, and would therefore be able to assist you with contentious aspects.  

The following are not included in our normal charges for administering an estate and we would need to provide you with a separate quote:-

The sale of any properties in the estate
Tracing beneficiaries
Deeds of Variation
Advice in relation to assets or liabilities outside of England and Wales
Any additional work which has not been agreed with us

We are also not able to provide you with business or financial advice.

We are here to help

To discuss how Macks specialists can help provide a customised solution to suit your legal requirements, please call us without obligation.

Middlesbrough Office: 01642 252828
Darlington Office: 01325 389800
Redcar Office: 01642 293334

Would you like a FREE, no obligation consultation with an expert solicitor?

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Contacting Us

0800 652 4321 office@macks.co.uk

Head Office

4 Woodlands Road
United Kingdom

Company Registration Number: 04609487 VAT Number: 660 001 395

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