A Relative Has Died – How Do I Start Handling What They Have Left Behind?


After a loved one has died, they'll have left behind property and an estate that needs to be administered and passed on to the right people. This may be a situation that you've not been faced with before, and finding out how to take the first steps in handling what has been left behind can be daunting. We're looking at some of the first questions that might come into mind if you're suddenly faced with this responsibility.

A Relative Has Died – How Do I Start Handling What They've Left Behind?

How do I find out if they have a will, or where it is?

You may or may not know if your loved one has left a will, but even if you're unsure if they did make one it's still important to check. There are a few ways to look for a will, the government website suggests:
  • Checking with their solicitor
  • Looking through the person's paperwork at home
  • Checking with their bank
  • Requesting with companies that offer the storage of wills
  • The London Probate Department

When do I find out if I've been included in the will? Is there a reading?

On TV and in films, you often see a solicitor holding a gathering for a will reading. This doesn't happen in reality. So to find out what is in the will once/or if it has been located, the solicitor handling the probate will inform people who have been mentioned. If you choose not to use the help of a solicitor, the executors named in the will should do this.

I've been named as an executor, what does this mean?

Your relative must name an executor in their will, this can be a professional but it is usually a close friend or relative. This role carries rights and responsibilities to properly administer the estate in accordance with the will, and you could be held personally liable if you do this negligently.

Do I have to use a solicitor?

You don't have to use a solicitor, but using a solicitor can save you a great deal of time, stress and hassle. Legal probate services can range from helping an executor with paperwork, the grant of probate and the distribution of the estate to supporting you with complex issues including Inheritance Tax, Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax matters and preparing the estate's accounts. As well as this, if disputes begin to arise over the will or the estate we strongly advise that you speak to a solicitor.

Some relatives are upset and are complaining about the will, but isn't everything set in stone?

Even if your loved one left a will, this doesn't mean everything is cut and dry. For example, it might surprise you to hear that certain people can't be disinherited, which can lead to complex cases attempting to retrieve their share from the estate.

Other difficult and highly strung cases can include disputes against executors or between executors (if more than 1 is stated) or if an individual believes there are mistakes in the will and would like to challenge it. Inheritance laws and contested probate can be difficult and can become highly emotive, which is why support and direction from a solicitor is so beneficial.

Who can help?

At Simpson Millar LLP our private client and specialist probate department will be on hand to help whatever your situation. We aim to make the process as accessible and cost effective as possible, which is why we offer different fee structures to suit your needs. We can help manage this process smoothly for you, and can efficiently handle cases involving complex tax issues and bitter disputes over estates.

News Archive

Get In Touch