How to deal with a loved one’s death in the 2020 festive period

As the country remains in various tiers of lockdown during the festive season many of us sadly have to deal with the death of a loved one.

The personal law solicitors at Gibson Kerr are happy to help you with the process of administering an estate.
The personal law solicitors at Gibson Kerr are happy to help you with the process of administering an estate.

For those nearest, whether it is a relative or the executor appointed by them, it is important to understand what the next steps are.

Registering the death

Registration offices in Scotland are closed to the public right now, so registrars are currently holding appointments by telephone. The local office will arrange a suitable time with you to obtain all the details they need to register the death. The medic who certified the death will ensure the registrar is provided with the medical certificate they need.

During the telephone meeting, the registrar will ask you questions such as the deceased person’s full name, date of birth, parents’ names, occupation and marital status. You will be asked to approve the draft death certificate and it will be electronically signed on your behalf and a copy emailed to you.

More information regarding the current process for registering a death in Scotland can be found on the National Records of Scotland website.

Arranging the funeral

The next step will be to organise the funeral, and you should contact a funeral director to begin arrangements. If your loved one had a funeral plan you should contact the plan provider to find out which elements of the plan can still be carried out. Alternatively, if there is a will, it may contain the deceased’s funeral wishes.

Depending on the tier you are living in, the Government rules may limit attendees at a funeral to immediate family only. Your funeral director will be able to advise you on this.

Many funeral directors are offering a live stream or recording of the funeral for family members and friends who cannot attend. Additionally, it should be possible to arrange a memorial service when restrictions ease.

Administering the estate

If there is a will which names you as executor, you will be responsible for administering the estate. This involves ascertaining the deceased’s assets and their values. You will need to establish if a Grant of Confirmation (probate) is required to enable you to close the accounts and sell/transfer the assets. Each bank will advise you whether they require a Grant of Confirmation to deal with the accounts they hold. Most banks have a telephone or online service for notifying them of the death, or a postal address to write to.

Once you have obtained all the information about the assets, you will complete the application for Confirmation (if required), including an inventory of the assets. The sheriff courts have recently begun accepting new applications for Confirmation, at 10 sheriff court hubs throughout Scotland.

If inheritance tax is payable, you will need to complete an inheritance tax account and payment can be made by bank transfer to HMRC.

If there is no will, the intestacy procedure will apply. Applications for appointment as executor can now be submitted to one of the 10 sheriff court hubs, although the process may take longer than usual with the courts working with restricted numbers of staff.

Here to help you

The personal law solicitors at Gibson Kerr are happy to help you with the process of administering an estate. They are working remotely and able to hold a telephone or video meeting with you (through Skype, Zoom or similar).

Please get in touch with personal law partner Lindsay Maclean on 0131 202 7516 or email [email protected], or visit https://www.gibsonkerr.co.uk/ for more information.