In our article “Why should I instruct a solicitor to administer an estate” we took an overview of some of the key reasons that you should ask a solicitor to handle an estate. One particular area that can benefit from a solicitors expertise is working out the value of a deceased person’s estate.
Valuing an estate
A person’s estate is made up of their money, property and items which were in their possession when they died. The first part of dealing with the estate of someone who has died is to try and get a grasp on how big or small their assets are and what exactly they own so that any debts can be paid and their assets divided up in accordance with either their Will or the laws of intestacy.
A typical person’s estate might include some or all of the following:
- Houses and property
- Money in a bank or building society
- Businesses owned
- Investments, i.e. stocks and shares
- Personal belongings of worth, for example high value jewellery
- Pensions and life insurance
- Cars and other vehicles
The value of the assets of an estate must be valued at the time of death and must also include any gifts, such as money, property or other assets, given away in the seven years prior to death. Whilst certain items can be determined by independent evaluators and surveyors, a large part of the process will involve contacting establishments such as banks, investment, stocks and pension companies to determine exactly how much the estate is worth and they will often require a copy of the person’s death certificate, certified by a solicitor.
In order to get access to these assets and distribute them up you will first need to obtain a grant of probate which with over 20 different forms to fill in can be a long and laborious process.
As you might expect, particularly with large estates, the job of valuation can be a time intensive process, often at a time when you may still be grieving and would prefer to concentrate on other things, which is why a solicitor’s experience in these matters can be invaluable.
Here at Rollingsons we are experienced in specialist areas of probate and wills. For more information or to arrange an initial consultation, please contact us on 0207 7611 4848.