When someone dies it will be necessary for another person to obtain a grant of representation to access most of the deceased’s assets and administer their Estate. It is often an emotional time for the person dealing with the Estate and it can be both demanding and time consuming. Sometimes knowing where to start is one of the hardest things, particularly if you have no idea what the deceased’s person’s Estate includes. Anything you can do during life to make this process run smoothly for the administrator will take away a lot of stress for your loved ones.
Some of the things you could do to make the administration of your Estate run as easily as possible are:
1) Make a Will to ensure your wishes can be adhered to and the Estate administration is a simpler process. Although not part of dealing with the Estate, whilst completing your Will also ensure you have Powers of Attorney in place.
2) Keep a list (electronic or paper) of your assets and debts. List the name of all banks, shareholdings, valuable chattels, addresses of properties/land you own, insurances you hold, pension and life assurance providers, utility providers you use, phone providers, loan providers, credit and store cards etc. If you have valuations of valuable assets include details. Consider everything inside and outside of your home. It is likely that you will keep adding to this list as you think of more things you missed the first time you put it together.
3) Keep a list of all gifts you have made in the past 7 years
4) If your spouse predeceased you, keep a copy of their Probate, Inheritance Tax Return and Will with your Will. This could help to reduce Inheritance Tax on your Estate.
5) Keep a contact list. List all organisations/clubs and charitable institutions/friends/professionals who should be notified of your death. You may also want to list social media sites you use.
6) Consider whether or not you will be liable to Inheritance Tax and take action to mitigate this liability if appropriate.
7) Ensure your Executors know where your Will, other official papers (driver license, passport, title documents, Tax Returns etc) and where your lists referred to above are kept. Consider letting your Executor have copies.
8) Access to online accounts, email etc. This is a difficult one! Not having a username and password for a deceased can make it difficult for an Executor to be sure they have all the necessary information to administer an Estate. However this is information you should not make available to others during your life. Some possible options to consider are having a list of more commonly used password information in a sealed envelope left with the Solicitor who keeps your Will. This isn’t really practical if you change this information regularly. Another option is a password manager software application. At the very least ensure the lists created above are annotated to show those accounts/organisations etc that are online only access. The Executors will then at least know of their existence and can liaise with the providers direct to get access to your information.
Having carried out the above you need to review your Will and the lists regularly and update as necessary.
Taking the above action will take a great burden away from your loved ones so start the process now.