Registrar of Deaths
This is the person who registers the death using the medical certificate from a doctor or a document from a coroner. The registrar issues certified copies of the death certificate which are the documents you need to legally prove the death has occurred, there may be a fee for this. It’s a good idea to get a few copies of the death certificate as these will be needed to inform banks and insurance companies.
In certain circumstances a death has to be investigated by a coroner. This normally creates a delay of a day or two before the death can be registered, and the coroner supplies the paperwork to the registrar – rather than a doctor giving you a medical certificate. If there is going to be an inquest the coroner will issue an interim certificate, which will allow dealings with the estate to begin.
The law in Scotland is different to that in England and Wales. The registrar role is similar but deaths are investigated by a procurator fiscal and some cases may undergo a fatal accident enquiry in front of a sheriff. The death certificate can be obtained from the registrar at an early stage for all deaths in Scotland as a medical certificate is issued irrespective of the circumstances of death.
The laws relating to inheritance and property in Scotland are very different to other parts of the United Kingdom apart from the taxes that need to be paid on estates. The equivalent process to probate in Scotland is called confirmation.
A small estate i.e. an estate with a total value of less that £36,000 can be dealt with by private individuals, although the requirement for confirmation will be decided by the individual companies you are dealing with.
The necessary forms can be obtained from the Sheriff Clerk’s office and the staff there will assist personal applicants for confirmation once all the information needed has been gathered. If the estate is larger than £36,000 and, especially if a property is involved, we recommend the use of a solicitor.
Personal representatives are an executor-nominate if there is a Will (testate) and an executor dative if no Will has been left (intestate).
Executor / Administrator
As executor or administrator (executor nominate or dative in Scotland) you may have responsibility for one or more of the following
- Registration of the death
- Arranging the funeral service
- Paying urgent expenses i.e. funeral costs
- Obtaining legal documents (grants)
- Informing financial institutions - banks, insurance companies, pensions
- Listing all the assets and liabilities of the estate
- Paying any tax liabilities i.e. inheritance tax
- Appointing trustees if required for beneficiaries of the Will
Arranging the funeral
Most bereaved families choose to use a funeral director to make the funeral arrangements, although this is not mandatory. We will only recommend members of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) or the National Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) as their members have to adhere to codes of conduct in what is an unregulated occupation.
We recommend checking any funeral director is a member of one or both of these organisations as they have complaint procedures for those rare cases when something has gone wrong.
Paying urgent expenses
We understand that the next few weeks will be difficult, dealing with funeral arrangements and arranging legal paperwork and that you may have some bills that need paying before you can get all the legal documents required for administering the estate.
You can use the deceased’s credit balance to pay the following expenses before all the legal paperwork is sorted:
- Funeral expenses – payable to funeral director
- Inheritance Tax – payable to H.M. Revenue & Customs
- Probate fees – payable to H.M. Courts service
- Confirmation fees – payable to The Scottish Court Service
We’ll normally send the cheque direct to them, but you can ask us to send it to you.
If this is the case we may need you to put in writing, who needs to be paid, whether you have or intend to apply for a Grant of Representation/Confirmation and the original invoice.
If the person who has died held an account with us, then we may be able to help by arranging a cheque payment. If the funds in the accounts are enough to cover all or part of the expenses we’ll arrange a cheque made out to the person or organisation named on the invoice.
A Grant of Probate is a document issued by a Probate Registry after they have received the necessary application forms and they have assured themselves that the Will is valid and that any taxes due have been paid.
Probate is the process of dealing with the deceased person’s estate and carrying out their instructions. The responsibilities include making sure all taxes and any debts are paid before any money can be given to beneficiaries (the people nominated to benefit from the Will) and that in general the estate is managed in a way that best serves the beneficiaries.
The entire process includes identifying what is in the estate and its value, completing the necessary application forms for both the probate registry and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, gathering in the assets including dealing with any property, paying the liabilities (debts) and completing the legal processes to cover you against late claims in the estate.
The same application process has to be made by the administrator of an intestate estate, where there is no Will. The grant issued in this situation is called Letters of Administration. If there is a Will but no executor for any reason, the grant is called Letters of Administration with Will annexed.
Collectively both executors and administrators are termed personal representatives.
Depending on the size of the estate and who the beneficiaries are there may be a liability to pay Inheritance Tax.
For more information, you can speak to our Estate Administration Service on 0800 056 0171. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm, or contact your local tax office directly or visit the HMRC website.