At Quinn Barrow we have a busy Lasting Power of Attorney; Wills and Probate Department. We can take care of legal matters after death but there are a number of things that a Will-maker can do before death to make the role and task of the Executor/Administrator a lot easier.
These actions can help to lighten the load of an unwanted burden at a difficult time and can help the Executor make a good practical start to the administration.
Generally, the first priority of the family/Executor will usually be to register the death and arrange the funeral. Your Executor will need to know if burial or cremation is to follow and how the funeral can be paid for.
We list here below some practical steps the Will-maker can take whilst alive:-
1 Make sure all friends and family know who your Executor/Executors are. Families can often assume it’s the immediate next of kin but not necessarily so.
2 Make sure the Executor knows the location of your current account to potentially liaise with your bank over access to money to meet funeral and other costs.
3 Make sure the Executor knows where your Will is located. Some decisions, which may not necessarily be financial, will need to be made relatively quickly so you should ensure your Executor has all the information he/she needs.
4 Make sure the Executor has a list of all your banks and building societies that hold money on the Will-maker’s behalf. The Executor can at least then let them know that the Will-maker has passed away and freeze accounts to prevent any security issues. The Executor can also inform the Bank of the Will Maker’s death so that any joint accounts can be transferred into the name of the surviving owner.
5 Pension Provider – Make sure you have this information so you can notify the pension company of the Will-maker’s death. They will arrange for any further sums to be paid or reclaimed.
6 Relevant Government departments and Local Council will need to be informed of the Will Maker’s death so it will be useful to have a copy of any national insurance number
property address for say any approaches to the DWP or local council. There may need to be sums to be repaid to the DWP (any overpayment of pension or benefits) and the Council Tax Department at the Local Council may well be able to but a freeze on the payment of Council tax until potentially either the house is sold or an adjustment is made to a single person household with the appropriate 25% discount.
7 Executors should also approach utility companies to advise of the death of the Will-maker and direct all future correspondence to them. It may be prudent to take meter readings as at the time of death. If a winter death occurs an Executor may need to take steps to ensure that water supply is turned off to prevent leaks after freezing weather.
8 Health and Welfare – If the Will-maker had any scheduled appointments for the hospital; GP; dentist etc. these can all be cancelled in due course.
9 Check the house insurance position – especially if the house will now be left empty. Many insurance policies, but not all, provide for the period of up to 30 days insurance cover on an empty property (but this is not standard) and you should monitor this situation in case you need to obtain unoccupied property insurance. Executors will need to make sure that the property is secure and that in cancelling any direct debits at the deceased’s bank account that any ongoing payments due to say an alarm monitoring company are not inadvertently cancelled.
10 Another increasing feature of the more digital world that we live in is the use of online accounts. Whilst it is obviously an issue of security it may well be prudent to discuss passwords with any Executor for access to online financial accounts. It will also apply to those other accounts such as those in the “cloud” that requires a password for access to for example family photos and other personal matters.
If you want to discuss any of the issues raised in this article please contact either Rory Nelson or Paul Beck at Quinn Barrow on 0151 231 6620.