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What to do when someone dies with a will

Handling a loved one’s will after they’ve passed away can feel complex, especially when you’re already dealing with an emotional stage in your life. This guide will explain what happens when someone dies with a will and how the probate process works. 

Terms you'll need to know:

  • Beneficiary – someone who receives inheritance from their loved one through a will
  • Executor – someone named in a will, which means they are allowed to deal with the estate
  • Estate – any properties, financial assets or belongings that the deceased has left behind
  • Intestacy – when someone dies without a will


What to do when someone dies and leaves a will

If someone dies and they have left their loved ones with a will, this is the process you’ll need to follow:

  1. Locate the original will

The first thing you’ll need to do is locate the will that your loved one has left behind. Search any secure places, such as a safe, locked drawers or attic, or check in with their solicitor as they might have given the will to them to store.

If you’ve lost the original will, you’ll need to fill in a lost will form. If you find multiple wills, only the most recent one will be accepted as valid. Don’t destroy any earlier versions though, until you have got probate.

  1. Apply for probate

The executor will then need to apply for probate. But you might not need to apply for probate if the person who died had only savings or premium bonds, or joint owned assets.

Contact each asset holder to ask if them if you need probate.

  1. Pay any remaining inheritance tax

Next, any tax that’s left on the estate of the deceased will need to be paid. You won’t need to do this if:

  • The value of the estate is below the £325,000 limit
  • You’re going to leave any assets that are over the limit to your spouse or charity.

How do you know the value of the estate? You’ll need to calculate an estimate of all the person’s assets, including all payments, gifts, debts, and joint assets. Then report the value of the inheritance tax to HMRC. When you do this, make sure you exclude any debts in the value total, but you will need to make HMRC aware of them.

  1. Collect any assets of the deceased

The executor needs to collect any assets left from the will, and distribute to the correct beneficiaries. In the will, the deceased will have stated whom they want to receive which of their assets. A record of how the estate is split must be kept, so everyone is aware of how each of the property or properties, monies and belongings have been distributed.

  1. Pay unsettled debts

Anyone who had a joint loan or was part of an official financial agreement with the deceased is responsible for resolving any unsettled debts. If there is not enough to pay off the debt, the value of the estate is used before it is distributed out.

Advice and support when someone dies

If someone has passed away, please contact our 24/7 support team as soon as you can. We are here to guide you every step of the way.

0800 456 1047

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