Category: Funeral Plans

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The processes behind Wills, probate and inheritance

When a family member dies, you may need to get the legal right to deal with their property, money and possessions – known as their estate. To do this in England and Wales you may be able to apply for a Grant of Representation – known as ‘probate’.

In most circumstances, applying for ‘probate’ follows a common series of steps:

Check if there’s a Will – this normally states who sorts out the estate. If there’s no Will, you can apply to be the ‘administrator’ – the person who deals with the estate if there’s no Will in place.

  • You can usually apply for a grant of representation to be the administrator of the estate if you’re the person’s next of kin, eg their spouse (or civil partner) or child.
  • You can apply if you’d separated from the person but you were still married or in a civil partnership when they died.
  • You can’t apply for a grant of representation if you’re the partner of the person but weren’t their husband, wife or civil partner when they died. You’re also not automatically entitled to any of your partner’s estate.

The law decides who inherits the estate if there is no Will.

Firstly, if this is the case, apply to get a Grant of Representation which gives you the legal right to access things like the person’s bank account. A grant of representation can sometimes be known as a ‘grant of probate’, ‘letters of administration’ or ‘letters of administration with a will.’ You can apply for a grant of representation yourself or use a solicitor or another person licensed to provide probate services. There are 4 steps to follow.

  1. Complete a probate application form.
  2. Complete an Inheritance Tax form.
  3. Send your application.
  4. Swear an oath.

You will then need to:

  1. Pay any Inheritance Tax that’s due.
  2. Collect the estate’s assets, eg. money from the sale of the person’s property.
  3. Pay any debts, eg. unpaid utilities bills.
  4. Distribute the estate – this means giving any property, money or possessions to the people entitled to it – the ‘beneficiaries.’

You don’t normally need a grant of representation if the estate either:

  • Passes to the surviving spouse or civil partner because it was held in joint names, eg. a savings account.
  • Doesn’t include land, property or shares.

You should contact any organisation holding the money and assets of the estate, eg. the bank or building society. They may ask for proof of death, such as the death certificate, after the death has been registered. Each financial institution has its own rules but it is likely that you will need to apply for a grant of representation.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, gaining the legal right to deal with the estate is called ‘Confirmation’ in Scotland and a ‘Grant of Probate’ in Northern Ireland.


Sources: www.gov.uk/probate (Information: April 2015)

 

building your financial future

The increasing cost of Funerals in the UK

Whilst funeral costs can vary a great deal from one funeral director to another, the overall trend in the last decade has been for costs to increase significantly. Reports published in 2010 from surveys and research by a number of organisations, including the National Association of Funeral Directors shared a number of broad conclusions:

? charges by local authorities for cremation have escalated by up to 48% and for burials by up to 67%, since 2007
? the fees funeral directors charge for a typical funeral average £1,515, up 3.25% since 2007
? third party charges associated with cremation and burial, excluding the work of the undertaker, have increased enormously
? Central government Social Fund payments, available to applicants on income support or in receipt of tax credits, have been capped since 2003 at £700, leaving a shortfall in 2010 of nearly £500 in covering the cost of the simplest funeral service
? other significant findings varied in the detail, but it was clear from the findings that fewer than 50% of adults surveyed had made any specific funding arrangements for their funerals and fewer than 20% had taken out a pre-paid funeral plan
There seemed to be a general awareness of the escalating costs associated with funeral planning, with less than one in five people who had recently been involved in arranging a funeral stating that they’d been surprised at how much a funeral had cost. Many talked about finding that they’d needed to scale down additional expenditure of catering, flowers, venues, etc.

There are few savings that can easily and comfortably be made at a time of shared grief in bereavement. Sadly being able to choose the best or most desirable arrangement is unlikely to become any easier, with funeral costs set to increase by up to 31% by 2014.

The present average cost in England for a cremation (77% of all funerals) is around £2,500 and for a burial is around £3,000 although in the London area this latter figure is estimated to be more than £4,600.

The Office of Fair Trading advises getting more than one quote to compare funeral costs and services and indicates that when you arrange a funeral you are responsible for paying the bill and that funeral payments are normally recoverable from the dead person’s estate.

It would seem to be both sensible if we can afford it, and sensitive to the feelings of families, to prepare for the inevitable (‘there’s nothing so sure in life as death’). Ensuring that adequate funeral funding arrangements are put in place before anyone has to agonize over what can be afforded and what cannot, should perhaps be seen as a ‘duty of care’ for those we leave behind and also a welcome opportunity to ensure the ‘send-off’ is as we would want it to be.

Please see our guest blo for more information

Guest Blog – Funeral Plans

*Guest Blog* – by Stoneman Funeral Services –

Just like making a will, or inheritance tax planning, funeral planning should be an important part of the financial planning process with clients aged 50 and over.

In light of the ageing population and the increasing cost of funerals in the UK, the demand and market for funeral plans is expected to grow considerably.

Many people have a natural concern and anxiety to ensure that provision is made for their own funeral. Often, they wish to spare others they love the burden of making difficult decisions at a distressing time. Sometimes, such sensible planning is a result of a lack of family or friends to whom they might entrust arrangements.

As an experienced family funeral service having served the community for over 100 years, the sponsor of Peace of Mind well understand these concerns.

Stoneman Funeral Service of Redhill & Reigate have prepared an unrivalled ‘Pre-Payment Funeral Plan’ designed to meet specific individual requirements.

Peace of mind is achieved in the knowledge that comprehensive funeral arrangements have been made with a professional and understanding funeral service, a guarantee that instructions will be carried out precisely, and that complete financial allowance has been made.

There are two options….

1. Pre-arrangement
We will check what your wishes are and keep the details on our files. We will send you a letter of confirmation to give to your relatives or executor. The funeral can be paid for at the time by your family, or from the estate, in the usual way.

2. Prepayment
You choose the style of service required and pay for it now, at today’s price. We guarantee to provide our services when required at no extra cost. For financial security, the funeral payment is held in Funeral Planning Trust until it is needed

It is not sufficient to leave funeral instructions in a will, as the will may not be read until after the service

Stoneman Funeral Services – Website

Funeral Plans

Useful TIPS – What to do

  • Registering a death
  • Coroners cases
  • Probate and letters of administration
  • Financial assistance from the DSS
  • Making the funeral arrangements