This post is brought to you in association with Co-operative Legal Services…
While I’ve never been in the position of organising a funeral, I have seen first-hand how tough and emotionally challenging it can be.
At a time when you’re reeling from losing someone you love, you have to think about the logistics of putting together a final farewell, alongside trying to understand the various laws and legislation that a death brings. If you find yourself in a difficult position, you can find legal help from Co-operative Legal Services, who can help deal with the more complicated aspects, to make the difficult process that little bit easier.
I’m no expert on the matter, so I’m handing this post over to the team at Co-operative, who can explain a few things to keep in mind:
If there’s a Will, then probate will usually help determine a large part of this process. To put it simply, Grant of Probate, as expressed in the Will, determines who is in charge of dividing the estate. These become known as Executors, or Personal Representatives, and have the legal authority to divide and access the estate. This is important, since a lot of the estate can’t be accessed without it; property and large valuables, for instance, can’t be accessed without a probate or letter of administration.
Intestacy and Family
Of course, when someone dies without a Will, it becomes more complicated. Rules of intestacy are used to determine what happens to the estate, as well as appointing Executors. This is done through letters of administration when Grant of Probate can’t be applied.
Rules of Intestacy have been in place since 1925 and are generally used to determine next of kin. They look at the closest ‘class’ of kin and move outwards, finding the first living relative at the time of intestate (when the deceased died).
If no living relative can be found, the estate goes to the Crown. However, this is a very complicated legal area and you might be missed out. If you feel there is a chance for you to apply, or that you may be one of the closest relatives, you may wish to apply for letters of administration or simply make yourself more aware. This can often be a complicated process, as it does include valuing the estate before anything else can happen, so professional assistance is advised, even here.
That said, the basic principles remain the same. The closer you are to the deceased, the more likely you’ll apply under rules of intestacy. It should be noted, however, that unregistered partners and non-blood relatives do not count for the purposes of intestacy.
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