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    The Searson Family Funeral Service is very much a family business, one that now has three generations working in it.

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    Probate and Legal Issues

    When someone dies, there are many things that need to be sorted out and dealt with. You may have heard about legal terms such as probate. Probate is the process of officially having the legal right to deal with the estate of someone whoís died. You can apply yourself, or use the services of a solicitor. In most cases the basic process is as follows:

    Check if thereís a will
    If there is a will, then this would normally show who is responsible for sorting out the estate. If there is no will, then the next of kin can apply to deal with the legal issues involved.

    Apply to get a 'grant of representation'
    A 'grant of representation' gives you the legal right to access things like the persons bank account(s) or savings. There will be times when a 'grant of representation' may not be needed such as -

    (a) if you have a surviving spouse or civil partner and the account(s) were held in joint names or
    (b) when there is no land, property or shares involved

    You should contact any banks that hold accounts for the deceased. They may ask you to provide proof of death, which would normally be the death certificate.

    Pay Inheritance Tax
    Inheritance Tax is only payable if the estates total value (including bank accounts) exceeds £325,000. This is part of applying for a grant of representation, and once you have paid any tax that may be due, you will be allowed to collect the assets remaining.

    Collect the assets
    For example, money from the sale of the persons property.

    Pay any debts
    For example, unpaid utilities bills, credit cards, loans, etc.

    Distribute the estate
    This means making sure that the people who are entitled to a part of the estate (otherwise called 'beneficiaries'), receive their share(s) of any property, money or possessions.