Gathering in the Assets

Once you've got your hands on grant of probate or letters of administration – Chapter 12 tells you how – it's time to collect the deceased's assets to pay beneficiaries and creditors.

You should already have a very good idea of what the deceased is worth. In order to complete probate forms PA1 and IHT 205, you provided a value for the following:

Gathering in the AssetsCash held in bank and building society accounts

Gathering in the AssetsNational Savings investments accounts

Gathering in the AssetsShare accounts and money from insurance policies

Gathering in the AssetsAny property owned solely by the deceased

Gathering in the AssetsAny assets held as tenants in common (refer to Chapter 5 for more on this)

Gathering in the AssetsProperty owned as part of a business partnership

Gathering in the AssetsHousehold goods such as furniture, jewellery, or cars

As part of the estate assessment process, you have already written to all organisations with which the deceased held money, investments, or property. Provided you sent these organisations a copy of the death certificate they should have supplied you with the details of any property, cash, or shares the deceased held with them. However, in most cases financial institutions won't let you have access to the deceased's cash, property, or shares until you send them a copy of grant of probate or letters of administration.

As soon as you've got your hands on it, send these organisations an official copy of your grant of probate or letters of administration and full details of the executor's account. Sending photocopies won't do: Obtain official copies from the probate registry. Enclose a covering letter clearly stating your details and the deceased's details. The organisations should then make the assets available to you, transferring any cash accounts straight into the executor's account. Job done!

The organisations should provide you with a copy of the deceased's accounts and files. Hold on to these copies for when you compile the executor's account. See 'Producing the Final Accounts' later in this chapter for more.

Gathering in the Assets

If you don't have plenty of copies of grant of probate or letters of administration, then you must send the original. You then have to wait for the organisation you contacted to return it to you so that you can send it off to the next organisation. This is the administrative version of death by a thousand cuts. Spend a few pounds extra and get plenty of copies of grant of probate or letters of administration from the probate registry. The current fee is £1 per copy.

Check to see if the deceased's employer owed them any money. The State may owe the deceased's estate some cash through a pension or tax rebate.

Gathering in the Assets

Your job as an executor or administrator is to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the effort to squeeze as much out of the estate as you can for the beneficiaries.

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