How to manage a deceased’s legal affairs


The death of a family member is devastating, and having to deal with their legal affairs while mourning their demise might seem like an impossible burden. Moreover, it may feel like you’ve got the world on your shoulders if you’re listed as the executor of the will.

Our law firm, Andrew & Andrew, have years of experience in probate law and can offer expert assistance in handling the last will and testament so that you don’t have to undertake the enormous responsibility on your own.

What is probate law?

Probate refers to the process of handling a deceased’s estate, from organising their assets, money and possessions for distribution, to paying off their debts to creditors and tax to the authorities.

Every will and estate is different, so you’ll need a probate solicitor Emsworth to provide their expertise and support.

What are the first steps I’m required to take as the executor?

You must first obtain a grant of probate before you can pay any outstanding debts, distribute what’s left, and close the probate. This essential certificate permits you to administer the estate as per the instructions left by the deceased.

The aims of this grant are to ensure that the will is valid. Going ahead without it is considered unlawful.

Can someone who’s not appointed this position apply for the grant?

Only the executor can apply for the grant and oversee the administration of the estate.

While it might seem like a massive undertaking, our team and probate solicitor Emsworth can assist with the paperwork and apply for the probate on your behalf.

If you can’t, as the chosen representative, handle the responsibility you can choose to step down from the role and allow a beneficiary to take over once a legal document called a Deed Of Renunciation has been drawn up.

What happens next?

If all goes according to plan, the courts will approve the will and give the executor the go-ahead.

Once that happens, the executor must inform interested parties and creditors. Interested parties include family and anyone else listed on the will.

If the will isn’t contested by anyone, the only thing the probate court will have to do is review and sign everything off.

How long does the process take to finalise?

It’s impossible to provide a definitive answer because the time varies according to the size of the estate and extenuating circumstances that could prolong the entire procedure.

You’ll find the process lengthy and drawn out, with the average timeframe taking approximately a year. During this time, our probate solicitor Emsworth will ensure that the process is seamless and with fewer hassles.

What if there’s no will?

The processes change if there’s no valid will. Under these circumstances, a grant of probate is replaced by rules of intestacy.

The rules of intestacy outline who can apply to administer the state and how the estate is to be distributed among relatives. Usually, only close family, namely spouses, civil partners and children, will receive an inheritance.

What challenges might I face?

Benefactors might argue the will if he or she feels it’s not an accurate representation of what the deceased actually wants to happen.

Credible reasons for challenging the will include

  • A possible forgery
  • The deceased lacked mental capacity when drawing up the will; or
  • The deceased signed the will under duress
  • A dependent being excluded from the will