Case Study 3 - John’s Story
We were contacted by a man in his 20’s whose father had passed away without a will. His parents had divorced and he had not seen his two elder brothers for some time and he did not know how to contact them. He was unsure what was involved with his father’s estate as he had become estranged from him after his parents divorced. He had seen our booklet at the funeral directors who told the son that we had recently completed an estate for another family and that they had been very pleased with the service.
The initial meeting was held at the son’s house in Sussex although his father’s house was in Essex. After explaining the legal position to the son he engaged Valued Estates to administer his father’s estate for a fixed fee as per the Rules of Intestacy. In this case that meant ultimately splitting the estate between the three sons after tax had been paid.
The concern was that his father had died with just £4,000 in a bank account and a few Premium Bonds. He had a house but that had a mortgage charged against it.
At the meeting the process was clearly explained as usual and the son provided some details of what was known to him at that stage.
They included: -
- A three bedroom bungalow and contents in Essex
- A Halifax mortgage
- Saga Life insurance
- Axa insurance
- NS&I Premium Bonds
- British Gas
- Essex and Suffolk Water
- Council Tax
- TV license
- Natwest account x6
- Natwest credit card
- State Pension
- Driving license
It was explained that we could arrange payment of the funeral from the frozen bank account immediately. We then agreed a fixed fee including legal fees, VAT and third party costs for the whole administration. As usual the fee was paid from estate assets. This meant that Valued Estates picked up the costs up until the house was sold. Provision was made for a search for his two estranged brothers who were duly tracked down and contacted. One had been in care for some time and we liaised with the local authority. The final part of the agreed fee was taken after the son had signed off the estate accounts upon finalisation. This means that Valued Estates are keen to complete the administration as quickly as possible – just like our clients!
Our fee covered the following aspects: -
- Collecting all papers and collating
- Obtaining written valuations of all assets including savings, house, contents etc
- Obtaining birth certificates and divorce papers
- Drafting and swearing the obligatory oath
- Completing Inheritance Tax forms
- Applying to the probate Registry for the Grant of probate
- Calling in all assets
- Arranging for the house to be cleared
- Arranging for the property to be sold including conveyancing
- Paying final utilities
- Paying back overpayments
- Making an interim distribution to the brothers
- Obtaining clearance from HMRC regarding Income Tax
- Obtaining clearance from DWP regarding state pension
- Providing comprehensive estate accounts
- Making final distributions
During the administration period the son received weekly feedback via email and he called his administrator if he was unsure of anything. This was all included in the fixed price at the outset.
The house was cleared, sold and the outstanding mortgage was paid off together with the final utilities. An interim distribution was made to the three sons after the missing two had been traced. Final accounts were prepared and the estate was finalised after all clearances had been obtained.
We received a call from one of two brothers in their 40’s who had both moved to Australia. They had returned to Bedfordshire to care for their father in the last few weeks of his life. After picking up one of our probate booklets at the funeral directors, a free advisory meeting was set up with the two brothers at their father’s home. At the meeting the reasons for probate and the process were clearly explained and the brothers ...
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