Someone important to you has sadly passed away:



It may seem curious to be offering advice about what happens beyond the earthly span of a life, but there are several things worth pointing out to you.


The first is that dying can be an expensive business. Whilst it is still possible for those with no assets to have a 'pauper's' funeral at no cost to them or their relatives, for the vast majority of people a simple funeral will cost at least £2,000. There is no practical ceiling to costs for celebrating a life and the attitude of the businesses involved will vary according to how lavish the event becomes.

Funeral directors and hoteliers are mindful of the fact that many families find they frequently have no immediate access to the wealth built up by the deceased and they are quite happy to wait until the Estate can afford to pay the bills if the funeral has been fairly modest. If the celebration has been at the more expensive end of the spectrum they will expect that the family is wealthy enough to settle the account straight away.

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The death will need to be registered with the Local Authority and there may need to be any inquest before a permanent death certificate can be issued. This happens when a death is unexpected and this can delay the funeral arrangements for some time. Unless there are grounds for the Coroner to believe that the death warrants a more detailed investigation, a temporary death certificate is usually issued to allow family to make the funeral arrangements within 2 or 3 weeks after death.

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Hopefully a Will has been left giving clear instructions to the survivors about how the Estate should be distributed together with details of how the funeral is to be conducted. If there is no Will then there is no flexibility in the way that the Estate must be dealt with and your solicitor will give you the bad news which varies according to your personal circumstances.

When a Will has been written it can still be changed within 2 years of the death to produce a better outcome for those that have been left behind.

Rules governing taxes change every year but family lives are seldom static and so it is possible to almost re-write the directions of the Will if all potential beneficiaries agree to do so. Where some of the potential beneficiaries are under 18 years of age their trustees or guardians would also need to agree on behalf of those children. This will enable maximum advantage to be taken from the tax allowances available including the creation of a discretionary trust if one has been omitted from the original Will.

Debts owed by the family can also be written off at this point to keep the Estate as low as possible to avoid Inheritance Tax which may become payable if those debts were collected and the amount written off can simply be deducted from any share that would ordinarily have been left to the people concerned.

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It is also worth remembering that Capital Gains Tax liabilities die with the owner. This is particularly important when deciding which assets should be placed into any discretionary trust, kept by a surviving spouse or registered civil partner or simply passed on to other members of the family.

Income Tax also needs to be address because most people will have paid too much Income Tax by the time they die. This means it is still worth completing a tax return for the deceased because they are probably entitled to a tax rebate.

Family insurances and investments will all need to be revisited following a death to make sure the correct ownership is shown, and that tax continues to be kept to the minimum level possible. Corrigans will help you through this.

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