Family get Inheritance after No Will Was Left Behind

Nadia Rimmer
Nadia Morgan
Associate Solicitor Advocate

A Probate Case Study - Client Situation

Mrs F sadly lost her sister in September 2019. As her sister didn’t leave behind a Will, this meant that her Estate would be distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy, which set out the order of priority for family members to inherit.

Because her sister was unmarried and had no children or surviving parents, the responsibility fell to Mrs F and her surviving sibling to handle their late sister’s Estate. As the other sibling lives abroad, they decided it would be best for Mrs F to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration so she could become Administrator of the Estate.

The Estate was relatively small as Mrs F’s sister had been living in a lodge in a caravan park worth around £23,000. She also had two bank accounts with £30,000 between them, and an NHS pension.

Although Mrs F was close with her sister and kept in touch with her often by phone, she still lived quite far away so couldn’t check up on her as often as she would have liked. But her sister’s neighbour had been regularly checking up on her and acting as her carer.

Her sister’s neighbour was also the one who found her sister and reported her death. She’d kept hold of her ashes along with the keys to her caravan and her paperwork. This put Mrs F in a bit of a tricky situation.

How We Helped

Mrs F got in touch with our Probate Solicitors for free initial legal advice in December 2019. On Mrs F’s instruction, Probate Solicitor, Nadia Rimmer wrote to the neighbour to request the keys and paperwork as legally they belonged to Mrs F’s family.

Once we got the paperwork and death certificate, we were able to establish the Estate assets and notify the late sister’s bank and utility providers, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the NHS.

Mrs F did raise her concerns about the nature of the neighbour’s relationship with her late sister, and was worried that she might have been taking advantage of her as her carer. We offered to investigate this for Mrs F and reported the situation to Action Fraud.

Fortunately, from looking at all the statements and evidence available, we were pleased to tell Mrs F that this wasn’t the case.

Once this was settled, we began to prepare the Probate application for Mrs F. This included completing a Statement of Truth, which was signed by Mrs F, and an Inheritance Tax form. As the Estate was under the threshold, there was no Inheritance Tax to pay.

We submitted the application to the Probate Registry in April 2020 and the Grant of Letters of Administration was granted in June 2020. We then provided a copy of this to both bank providers after they requested to see a Grant of Probate before releasing any funds. After they were satisfied, Mrs F was given closure forms to sign.

The accounts were closed by September 2020 but before we could distribute the funds to Mrs F and the beneficiaries, we got a notification from the DWP to check that the correct pension had been paid. Once they were satisfied that nothing was due, we could proceed with the next stage.

Mrs F decided to sell her sister’s caravan, so Nadia arranged to sell the caravan back to the caravan park. She also paid any the outstanding outgoings, including utility bills. 

The Outcome

Once we’d paid the outstanding bills and the sale of the caravan went through, Nadia could then prepare the Estate accounts, gathering together all the assets and liabilities to calculate what was left to be distributed.

Nadia sent all the details through to Mrs F and her other siblings, who had the opportunity to raise any queries or concerns. As they were both happy with the details, we could distribute their inheritance into their accounts and send a final closing letter.

We also sent Mrs F all of the original documents such as the death certificate and Grant of Letters of Administration for her safekeeping.

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