Administration of the Estate – Part 1

Picking up from last week, with the oversimplified list, the first part is to find the last Will, if there is one and then find the information regarding the financial aspects of the estate.

I’m going to make the assumption here that the estate is solvent, ie there are more assets than debts in value terms, so that once all the debts have been paid, there is some money (or other value) left over.

Initially there is nothing immediately to do with the Will, other than read it and find out who the Executors are. Then the Executors need to establish the extent of the estate.

The first thing to do is a search of the deceased home. Secure any assets of value and make sure that they are protected. So money and things like jewellery should be removed to a safe location, which may mean that the jewellery is deposited in a bank or at least somewhere where it is safe from loss. Money will need to go into a bank accounts and most banks have an Executors bank account that can be opened to deal with the administration of the estate.

The search of the home should bring to light some paperwork relating to their financial affairs in order to find out where their assets are held. The Executors are looking for all aspects of financial information, not just investments or money in the bank. There should also be information about who the utility companies are etc. At the date of death, these regular payments are never correct to the penny and the electricity company therefore may owe the deceased some money or the other way around. The same is true for regular payments in, such as pension, these are also never correct to the penny.

I suggest that the post is re-directed so that any further financial information can be forwarded to the Executors.

Consideration should be given to doing a trace using a specialist tracing company in respect of dormant assets, lots of these searches produce no assets, but some do and some can produce big assets. The cost of the search has to be weighed up against the likelihood of something being found. Consider how organised or not the deceased was, a highly organised person is less likely to have dormant assets, but they may have become organised later on and there could still be something out there.

The next thing to do is write to everyone with a copy of the death certificate asking the value at the date of death. This means lots of letters to banks and other asset holders. If the deceased had lots of shares, consider passing the information to a stock broker to ascertain the extent of the holding, although they will charge for this, they can check all the shareholding they are given information on and therefore establish if the shares have been traded and therefore sold. If the deceased has a stockbroker, ask them the details of the portfolio. The stockbroker can also value the shares, as well as find out the extent of the shareholding.

Write to everyone that the deceased had financial dealings with, with a copy of the death certificate. The banks will freeze the bank accounts and so the utility companies will need to know why the direct debits have been cancelled, so they will need to know that it is because their customer has died and not because they just don’t want to pay the bill, otherwise there is a risk that they would send debt collectors.