The Not So Sombre Job of Dealing with the Administration of EstatesPublished on: 07 September 2017
When people ask what area of law I deal with, the answer ‘I deal with the administration of estate’s’, usually fails to excite most people. However, this fairly seemingly sombre job of dealing with the assets and estate of someone who has passed away is a varied and incredibly rewarding job.
Carrier bags or ring binders
When you are asked to deal with an estate for the first time of a client you find that they come in all shapes and sizes, quite literally. Some people’s assets turn up in two or three carrier bags, with a jumbled array of paperwork dating back 20 years or so, and others are presented in a neat ring binder. The role of a solicitor dealing with assisting in the administration of an estate is to fit in with the needs of the executors and beneficiaries.
Getting the right music and flowers
The task of registering the death of a client and organising a funeral is usually left to family members, but on occasions where the firm has been appointed as executors, and no such persons exist I have had to do both. Whilst it may seem sad that there was no family member available to deal with these formalities, it is the work involved in finding out sufficient information to provide to the registrar and subsequently choose the right music and flowers, after speaking to friends and neighbours about the deceased, that makes the solicitor client relationship much more three dimensional.
In the search for details in relation to the deceased’s financial affairs, I have recently had to swap my suit for a ‘full forensic style’ outfit when entering a property that had unfortunately flooded as a result of a burst pipe which happened whilst the now deceased was in hospital. The water had turned most of the paperwork into paper mache which meant picking through it to look for clues on what financial institutions I needed to write to.
Classic Mercedes SL320
Disposing of a deceased’s chattels usually ends up with calls to a local charity with the remainder going to the local sale room, although some estates hold more exciting finds.
Whilst I have yet to come across a hidden ‘Monet’, I recently assisted executors, who lived abroad, in the sale of a deceased’s classic Mercedes at our local auctioneers, Brightwells in Leominster. Conveniently I had agreed to attend on the day of the auction, with authority to sell the vehicle if there were offers, should it not meet the reserve. The car, which had an estimate of £7,000 - £9,000, was much sought after and had attracted a lot of interest prior to the auction, and it achieved a staggering £12,500 on the day.
Fortunately I had attended the auction with a colleague, who managed to prevent me from getting carried away during the rest of the auction and going home with a particularly nice silver Jaguar XJS.