Managing a Deceased Loved One’s Estate: What You Need to Know

Dealing with the passing of a close friend or relative is naturally one of the most stressful things any of us ever goes through. It’s no surprise therefore that the financial realities of a thing like this can be so difficult to talk about. If you are left to manage a loved one’s property, estate, or assets, it is important you know how to traverse the process. This is because unexpected costs can creep up on you quickly, and financial disputes can also put undue pressure on your other relationships if they are not dealt with quickly. Fortunately, there’s plenty of guidance and advice out there for those who need it. To start with, though, here are the basics of what you’ll need to know.

Applying for Probate

The first step in dealing with the assets of someone who’s recently passed is to apply for probate. Your first question understandably may then be what is probate & how does it work? Well, in short, probate refers to the process of dealing with the estate of a deceased person. In this context then, applying for probate means getting legal permission to act as the manager of your loved one’s estate. If the person applying for probate has been named as the executor of the estate in the will, this process is usually fairly straightforward. If this is not the case, or the executor is unable or unwilling to act, a direct member of family or spouse can apply for an administrator’s license. In these cases, it is also possible for there to be some dispute over who should act as the primary executor of the estate. It is thus important you discuss the matter with your direct family, so a solution everyone can agree on is reached.

Paying Outstanding Expenses

One of the first things you should do as the person in charge of someone’s estate is to get a holistic idea of any taxes, debts, or national insurance payments outstanding on their estate or assets. As the executor of an estate, it is now your direct responsibility to ensure any expenses associated with it are paid. This also includes mortgage payments if the person in question has left behind any property. The one exception to this is if any outstanding debts are shared, such as outstanding overdrafts in joint accounts. In these instances, the debt will become the responsibility of the other person who shares responsibility for the debt.

Notifying the Authorities

Conversely, it is also fairly likely that the person was being paid some sort of benefits from a government office while they were living. In these instances, it is crucial you notify the relevant government department paying the benefit about the death of your loved one. It is important you do this as soon as possible, since you may end up needing to repay any benefits that have been paid since their death, otherwise. If you find that the finances of your loved one’s estate are particularly complex, you may also consider hiring a solicitor for guidance.