Dealing with the estate of someone who's died

You may need to apply for the right to deal with the estate of the person who’s died (also called ‘probate’).

If you already have the right or have probate (as an executor or administrator) you can start dealing with the estate.

Check if you need to apply for probate.

You can hire a probate practitioner, such as a solicitor to help with some or all of the tasks of dealing with an estate. Money Advice Service has guidance on when and how to use a probate practitioner.

Get access to financial assets

You can ask for financial assets to be transferred to an agreed ‘executorship account’.

This can be either:

  • an executor’s bank account
  • an account that’s been set up only for dealing with the estate

Every executor named on the grant of probate may need to be present when you withdraw assets. Different asset holders have different rules, so check with them first.

Pay any debts and taxes

As the executor or administrator you must pay off any debts or outstanding payments before distributing the estate. This could include:

Place a notice in The Gazette to give creditors the chance to claim anything they’re owed. This will protect you from responsibility for any debts.

You can use money from the estate to pay any solicitor’s fees as part of the probate process.

You may also need to pay Inheritance Tax.

Jointly owned property and bank accounts

Money in a joint bank account automatically passes to the other owners. You still have to include this money as part of the estate when you work out Inheritance Tax.

If the person who died owned the whole of the home with another person (‘joint tenancy’), ownership passes to the other owner. Otherwise, their share goes to the beneficiary named in the will.

Contact the mortgage company, check with HM Land Registry or get legal advice if you’re unsure how a property’s owned - you may need to update the property records.

Distribute the estate

Once all debts and taxes have been paid, you can distribute the estate as detailed:

Beneficiaries may have to pay Income Tax if the assets they inherit generate income for them.

After this you can prepare the estate accounts. These must be approved and signed by you and the main beneficiaries.

  1. Step 1 Register the death

    1. Register the death within 5 days

    Check what to do if:

    To stop or change benefits payments you can tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the death straight away.

  2. Step 2 Arrange the funeral

  3. Step 3 Tell government about the death

    The Tell Us Once service allows you to inform all the relevant government departments when someone dies.

    1. Use the Tell Us Once service to tell government
    2. If you cannot use Tell Us Once, tell government yourself

    You'll also need to tell banks, utility companies, and landlords or housing associations yourself.

  4. Step 4 Check if you can get bereavement benefits

  5. and Deal with your own benefits, pension and taxes

    Your tax, benefit claims and pension might change depending on your relationship with the person who died.

    1. Manage your tax, pensions and benefits if your spouse has died
    2. Check how benefits are affected if a child dies
  6. and Check if you need to apply to stay in the UK

    If your right to live in the UK depends on your relationship with someone who died you might need to apply for a new visa.

    Check the rules if:

    1. Contact UKVI to check the rules for other visas
  7. Step 5 Deal with their estate

    You might have to deal with the will, money and property of the person who's died if you're a close friend or relative, or the executor of the will.

    1. Check if you need to apply for probate
    2. Value the estate
    3. You are currently viewing: Deal with the estate
    4. Update property records