The Death Conference – my talks


Following on from my earlier blogs, I was thrilled to be asked to Wendy Coulton’s “Elephant in the Room” event at Plymouth Central Library on North Hill on 27 & 28 March 2015.


The purpose of the conference was to get the conversation going about death, that it is part of life, and that we should talk about it.


Wendy asked me to speak twice, so after discussion with her, we agreed that I would split up my talks into pre-death and post-death legal issues.


So what did I say in my post-death talk.  The first point that I made was not to panic, it is a distressing time for families, they are shocked and bereaved and they don’t know what to do in the first few hours and days.


So first things first, get the funeral sorted, and in order to do that the family will need to register the death and find out if there is a Will and if there is, to find out if there is a funeral clause in the Will.


The next thing, find the Will & work out who the Executors are, check any insurance policies to see what effect the death of the policy holder will have, if any and work out if there are any cashflow issues.


Then you can start to deal with the administration of the estate, which in simple terms, is gathering the financial information to obtain the Grant of Probate and completing all the necessary paperwork, including the Oath and IHT form.  Then gather in the financial assets and pay any liabilities and the final stage is to distribute the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will or intestacy.


There are things that can make a simple estate, as described above more complicated and that includes: Inheritance Tax issues, contested estates, claims against the estate and coroner’s inquests.  Any foreign element can also make things more complicated, whether the deceased was not a national of England & Wales or if they owned assets in another jurisdiction, such as a holiday home in France or Spain!  Homemade Wills can have flaws in them, the drafting is easy to get wrong.  Any unclear terms in the Will can cause issues, so “my children” does not include step children, but does include children from an earlier marriage, is this what you want,  if your Will was professionally drafted, then there may be a claim against the Will drafter.  For any of these issues, seek help!


There were lots of questions at the talk, as these issues affect lots of people.  If they knew what they left behind, they may take steps to make sure that they don’t leave their loved ones with a mess to sort out.


Thank you Wendy for getting this important conversation started.