How do I gather assets from a deceased’s estate?
In most cases, when someone dies, they will leave assets in their Will which must be distributed to their beneficiaries (those who will benefit from the Will). It is the important role of the Executor to distribute all the assets to the right people. When we say “gathering assets” we mean collecting and obtaining tangible and intangible possessions. Generally, you will go through the following process to gather assets:
Step 1: Identify the assets that exist
Step 2: Find where the assets are (eg: in bank accounts, in property)
Step 3: Work out the liabilities, debts, and taxes due (if this was not done in the Grant of Probate)
Step 4: Liquidate or transfer ownership of the assets to the beneficiaries
How do I find the assets?
Finding the assets will involve going through the list of possessions and establishing how to obtain or liquidate them.
Physical assets: These would include things like valuable jewellery, watches, or cars and would be fairly straightforward to obtain.
Property: Gathering property is more difficult because you will have to instruct a solicitor and either transfer the title deeds or sell the property and distribute the proceeds.
Financial assets: This will involve contacting banks and other financial institutions to gain access to bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks, and shares.
Cash: As well as intangible, online finances, the deceased may also have physical cash. This may be found in their property. You will need to collect the cash and distribute it to the correct people.
Pensions: You will need to consider that in today’s world many people will have pensions with different companies and so it is important that you ensure that you have accounted for all the pension that the deceased was entitled to. This may involve completing forms to claim life policies or lump sums.
Is it straightforward to gather assets?
Usually, all the available assets will be contained in the deceased person’s Will which will help you when making a list of everything that you need to gather and to who it needs to be distributed.
Whilst this sounds like an easy task, it may not be if someone has a complex situation such as assets in other countries, ownership in companies, or shared ownership in properties. It can especially be tricky where you may not be aware of certain assets such as overseas bank accounts or unknown stocks and bonds.
What happens if I don’t collect all the available assets correctly?
Executors may be held personally liable and be open to claims made by the beneficiaries or creditors of the estate if they do not correctly collect all the assets.
What if I am not in a position to gather and distribute assets?
The Executor can pass on this task to a solicitor to ensure that they collect all the relevant assets and that they are compliant with the law.
If you would like assistance with collecting assets from an estate, please do not hesitate to contact us.