Frequent Estate Administration Questions
1What does ‘intestate’ mean?
If someone dies without leaving a will, it is referred to as dying intestate.
2Can you tell me how much an estate is worth?
Whilst a gross value of the estate can occasionally be obtained in a relatively short space of time, there are often many liabilities that we are obliged to investigate and ensure are settled from the estate. This can include payments for a funeral, overpaid benefits or pensions, final bills, and other such payments. It is also necessary to thoroughly check for any money owed to the estate, either in other accounts or in the forms of overpayments made by the deceased to other organisations. We will therefore not give an exact value of the estate until we are ready to make the final settlement to all beneficiaries in case there is a substantial change in the gross value. These will be issued to you in the form of a set of estate accounts sent via post (or where possible email if you are a non-UK resident) for your approval prior to the funds being distributed.
3What if the estate is insolvent?
An insolvent estate arises when a deceased person's debts are greater than the total value of assets. If an estate is insolvent, then there is no payment made to beneficiaries as there are no funds due. However, it is not possible to inherit debt and beneficiaries will not be called upon to settle any debts. As such, there are still no costs incurred to the beneficiaries.
4How long will the process take?
The process can take anything from nine months to upward of three years in complex cases. The majority of cases are however resolved within two years.
5Will we be updated on the proceedings of the case?
Regular updates are rarely available. Case work is ongoing, and estates take some time to settle both financially and in terms of contact with sometimes numerous beneficiaries. Updates will be provided by us to all beneficiaries on an estate when there has been a significant change in the status of an estate.
6What happens if there is one person left who is holding up the estate?
In some circumstances, beneficiaries do not engage with the intestacy process. If there is a single person or branch of the family entitled to a portion of the estate not engaging, their share or shares can be held in a trust account until such time as they come forward. We can only undertake to do this once we have tried all reasonable methods of engaging with the outstanding beneficiary or beneficiaries.
7Can I be put in touch with other beneficiaries on the estate?
Due to data protection, we cannot give out any beneficiary’s contact details without their express permission. If you wish to be put in touch with specific relatives, we can pass on your details with your consent and inform them you wish to get in touch.
8Will I need to notify you of a change in address or contact details?
Yes, we need to have your up-to-date contact details to keep you informed of updates and important information. It is also helpful if you can provide your email address, as contacting beneficiaries via email is quicker than by post and incurs no cost to the estate.
9Which family members do we include on the family tree?
All entitled beneficiaries and any relatives which connect them to the deceased. The family tree does not contain children of beneficiaries, or always details of spouses of beneficiaries. We provide copies of our research including a family tree as part of our service.
10How will I be paid?
When the estate accounts are sent out for approval, we will ask you to choose whether you wish to be paid by bank transfer or cheque. If you do not return a form indicating how you wish to be paid, you will be sent a cheque (by default).
11Who is entitled to claim an inheritance if a person dies without leaving a will?
Not all blood relatives who have survived a deceased person have an entitlement. Under the Administration of Estates Act 1925, if a person has died without leaving a will and there is no surviving spouse, children or parents, then siblings and/or their descendants take priority. If the deceased has no relatives at this level of entitlement, then the descendants of the grandparents of the deceased become entitled. If you are related by marriage (e.g. if the deceased person was your step-father or mother or your brother or sister-in-law – although your children might be entitled in the latter case), then you have no legal entitlement to share in that person’s estate.
12Will I inherit the estate on my own?
This does happen but is unlikely. In most cases, there are other relatives who have a similar family relationship to the deceased.
Do you have some more questions that aren't answered here? Get in contact with a member of our very helpful admin team today.
Drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 01249 476777 to chat to a member of the team!