If you have recently lost a family member or friend and are dealing with the administration of their estate, we have set out below a few matters for you to consider to try and help with the process in these difficult times:
The Coronavirus Bill has recently amended who, where and how deaths can be registered.
On a temporary basis, deaths can now be registered over the phone to keep in line with social distancing requirements. Cause of death certificates issued by doctors, which ordinarily have to be presented in person, can now be submitted electronically.
Payment can be taken over the phone for any copy death certificates and the certificates can be posted out to you.
Organising a funeral at any time can be difficult but with social distancing measures and self isolating added in, it can be very hard.
Funeral directors will talk you through all of the social distancing measures that have been introduced. There are also options for people who cannot attend the funeral – many people are using videographers to do a live stream of the service so loved ones do not miss the funeral – again, speak to the funeral directors about the options available.
Notifying asset holders of a death
Usually you would need to present an original death certificate to an asset holder either by going in branch or by post.
A number of bank and investment companies have now launched online portals where you can upload information from the death certificate to assist with the notification process. It is a good idea to speak to the asset holders and ask what their requirements are in the current circumstances. Again, this should help comply with the social distancing recommendations or if you are self isolating at home, as well as help you progress the administration of the estate on lockdown.
If someone has died leaving a property, make sure you establish who the property is insured with and notify the insurance company that the property is unoccupied as soon as you can. The insurance company may have certain requirements to keep the property fully insured.
If an estate is subject to Inheritance Tax, the estate will generally want to pay as much of the tax as possible by the end of the sixth month from date of death. After this period, interest will begin to accrue. All Inheritance Tax accounts should be submitted within a year from date of death otherwise penalties may be imposed. HMRC have not issued any guidance to suggest these deadlines will be relaxed during COVID19 and if you are appointed as an executor, you should be aware of these and working towards them where possible.