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Dying Without a Will - Intestacy

Solicitors in Essex & London

When someone dies leaving a Will, it will be clear who is named as the Executor and who the beneficiaries of the estate are. When someone dies without a Will, they are said to die ‘intestate’.  In these circumstances, strict legal rules determine who is entitled to administer the estate and who the beneficiaries of the estate are. Our Wills and Probate solicitors in Essex and London have significant experience dealing with intestacies.

When someone administers an intestate estate they are legally known as an administrator. Whether a person is acting as an Executor or as an administrator their duties, responsibilities and potential personal liabilities are the same.

An administrator will be required to carry out some or all of the following tasks:

  • Arrange the funeral
  • Accurately establish the value of the estate and any estate liabilities
  • Arrange the payment of any Inheritance Tax and claim any available tax reliefs
  • Apply to the Probate Registry for Letters of Administration
  • Collect in the estate assets
  • Settle the deceased’s income tax and capital gain tax liabilities up to the date of death
  • Settle all estate liabilities and administration expenses
  • Settle any post death estate income tax and capital gains tax liabilities
  • Prepare estate accounts
  • Establish the identities and whereabouts of the beneficiaries
  • Distribute the estate in accordance with the rules of intestacy
  • Set up any Trusts that arises as a result of the intestacy
An administrator should be aware of the potential personal liability that goes with their appointment and the legal protection available. Failure to act properly could result in the administrator being personally liable to:
  • Pay the deceased’s debts (including unknown debts)
  • Pay a claimant who successfully claims a share of the estate following a challenge to the terms of the Will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975
  • Pay HMRC penalties and interest
  • Pay any beneficiary who has not received the correct amount from the estate
  • Compensate the beneficiaries for any financial loss to the estate as a result of their own negligence

An essential part of an administrator’s role is to ensure that the estate is distributed to the correct beneficiaries in the correct shares. Sometimes it will not be obvious who the beneficiaries are and specialist legal advice may be required to ensure that an administrator distributes an estate correctly. As part of this process, it may be necessary to instruct a specialist genealogist to trace the family and obtain specialist loss beneficiary insurance to protect the administrator from any losses that arise as a result of any incorrect distribution. 

Our Wills and Probate solicitors recognise that acting as a lay administrator often means dealing with complex and unfamiliar legal issues. It is essential for an administrator to be fully aware of their legal obligations and the potential personal liability of not administrating an estate properly. If an administrator needs legal advice, it is important it is taken as soon as possible. Pinney Talfourd offers whatever level of assistance an administrator may require. This can range from a one-off consultation with an administrator, to fully administering an estate on their behalf.

Book A Free Initial Probate Consultation


Find out more with a free initial probate consultation

If you feel that you require further legal advice about intestacy and being the administrator of an intestate estate, please book a free initial meeting with one of our experts.

We can explain the process and help you plan your next steps. Free consultations with our probate solicitors are available at any one of our offices in BrentwoodHornchurch and Upminster, and also at our office facilities based in Leigh-On-Sea and Canary Wharf, London.

We are able to see clients at short notice and offer home and onsite visits to those who are unable to personally attend our offices.

Due to the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak we are currently offering appointments by telephone and some video calling services. Our offices are also open with comprehensive safety measures in place.

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