Legal advice from Sarah Greene, a Wills and probate solicitor at FDR Law, based at Palmyra Square, Warrington
How do I wind up my father’s estate?
Q: My father has just died and I’m named as the sole executor of his Will. What are my duties and what is involved in applying for probate?
A: Taking on the role of Will executor is a very important job and this means you are now legally responsible for winding up your father’s affairs. Your duties will include identifying all your father’s property and assets, assembling a total valuation for his estate, distributing gifts of money and property according to your father’s wishes, calculating tax and paying debts.
It is your responsibility to register his death and inform all official organisations. Banks and building societies will normally expect you to provide an original death certificate so it’s advisable to ask for several copies.
If his assets are less than around £10,000 you may not have to obtain a grant of probate. However if he owned any property or had substantial savings, you will almost certainly need to go down this route. Grant of Probate is a legal document issued by your local probate registry which allows you to deal with the estate. You cannot obtain his assets without it and it is the first important stage in organising the distribution of his estate.
Age UK publishes a useful leaflet ‘How to be a Will Executor’ which you may find helpful. A downloadable version is available on its website www.ageuk.org.uk.
If these duties sound too onerous or you’re struggling to devote the necessary time to administering his estate, you may want to bring in professional support from a solicitor. A solicitor can shoulder the main burdens of applying for probate, assembling and distributing assets, and paying inheritance tax.