When someone close dies it can be difficult to deal with all the formalities and paperwork which are needed at this very difficult time. Our executry solicitors based in Edinburgh have experience of acting as executors in the winding up of estates and can take a great deal of the stress and work off your shoulders.
In Scotland, a person charged with winding up an estate is known as an executor.
Arranging a funeral.
If necessary, we can deal with the registration of the death and arrange the funeral, all of which we will do in a discreet and professional way and in accordance with your wishes and instructions.
Winding up an estate and confirmation
If there is a will, then we will take the executor or executors through the process of winding up the estate. If there is no will, we will draft the appropriate petition for the appointment of an executor by the court and we will then ensure that the estate is wound up in accordance with the law in Scotland.
Most people have no real knowledge or understanding of what is involved in winding up an estate. Few of us know how to proceed after we have registered the death. There are many misconceptions about what documentation is necessary to apply to act as the executor of a will.
Unless the estate is relatively small (usually less than £10,000) the usual documents - the will, the death certificate and the executors ID – will not suffice.
In cases where the estate exceeds £10,000 (most cases in which a house is involved), what is known as 'confirmation' is necessary.
Confirmation is the Scottish equivalent of Probate (we don't speak of wills and probate in Scotland - for a helpful guide to the differences between probate and confirmation please click here), and is obtained from the local Sheriff Court in the area in which the deceased last lived.
Understandably, the relatives of a deceased person will seek a speedy resolution to the process of winding up an estate. However, where confirmation is required, the Executors will not be able to deal with deceased's assets until confirmation has been properly issued by the relevant Sheriff court. So: bank accounts cannot be closed, houses cannot be sold, and investments cannot be cashed in and so on.
Where there is no Will some additional procedures are required. Application must be made to the relevant Sheriff Court (this is known as a "petition") to have an appropriate person (often a solicitor) appointed as an executor. Once this petition is granted and a guarantee (a "bond of caution") is obtained then confirmation can be applied for. In an application for confirmation, the deceased's estate is valued.
At this stage, it becomes a process of communicating various documents between the executor and the Sheriff Court in order that the winding up of the estate can begin. Certain fees also become payable.
An additional complexity arises if inheritance tax (IHT) is payable. An account of the tax liability requires to be sent to the Capital Taxes Office in Edinburgh. IHT must be paid in order that confirmation can be successfully applied for. An obvious concern arises for many families if the IHT bill exceeds what they are able to pay. In this case, the usual process is to have an Executry solicitor arrange an IHT overdraft.
Valuing an estate.
Valuing an estate is the process of contacting all institutions and companies with which the deceased did business in order to ascertain the value of what he or she owned (or owed) at their death, in order that these funds can be collected, or debts paid.
This is often a long and complex process (taking weeks, months and sometimes years) as it is dependent on third parties (banks, building societies, credit card companies etc.) with whom the deceased dealt providing information to the executor. As such, it is often left to an Executry solicitor.
While it is possible for a lay executor to wind up a deceased's estate. This involves applying to the Sheriff court and paying one all-inclusive fee for the confirmation documentation to be prepared. However, this is normally only granted in very straightforward and simple small estates.
Contact our solicitors
We have much experience of dealing with estates and can help you at what can be a very difficult time. Click here or call our solicitors today on 0131 208 2260.