Consumer Rights: 'My best friend died and I did not know I was her executor'
Help through the complexities of probate and paying to play music in a hairdressers
Sunday 09 September 2012
Q: My best friend has just died and although she never asked me I have discovered she has named me, on her will, as her executor. As far as I'm aware she didn't have a lot of money or property, and she has a husband so I expect everything goes to him, but I don't know where to start. Do I have to take the job? And if I do, should I get the help of a solicitor?
SB, via email
A: First things first: Read the will. If it really is very straightforward and there's little money involved you shouldn't need the help of a solicitor and may feel happy about doing the work. However, you will need to go through your friend's paperwork to find out what assets she has left: her bank and building society accounts, any investments or premium bonds, pensions or insurance policies which pay out on her death.
If your friend's home isn't rented, does she own it in her name only or jointly with her husband? Does she have any debts or does she owe any tax? Does anyone owe your friend money? If so they now owe it to her estate and you should collect that too. It will be your job to do as much research as possible to gather all the facts.
You will need to make sure any debts are paid and that people listed in the will as her beneficiaries get the gifts she has left them.
If, as you suspect, there isn't much money involved and there are small amounts in her accounts, you may be able to gather it all together and pass it on to her beneficiaries without applying for a Grant of Probate. Most banks will agree to hand over amounts up to £5,000 but they may ask you to sign an indemnity to protect themselves from the risk that it later turns out they've handed the money over to the wrong person.
However, if she has more than £5,000 in any one account, an insurance policy on which the estate can claim, or pensions you will probably need a Grant of Probate. This is the certificate that gives you as executor the authority to go ahead and sort out the estate in accordance with your friend's will. You can find all the necessary forms and guidance notes for filling them in online at direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Death/Preparation/DG_10029716 .
Print them off, fill them in and sent them to the nearest Probate Registry (the address of which will also be online at Direct Gov). You will then need to go along for an interview after which the Grant of Probate will be sent to you.
There is also the question of inheritance tax. When you apply for probate there will be another form to fill in called a Return of Estate Information, though if the total in the estate is less than £325,000 there won't be any inheritance tax to pay.
If all of this feels too much for you to take on, you can ask a solicitor to do the work for you, the costs of which can be claimed back from the estate as can your reasonable expenses. Alternatively you can appoint someone else to act as your attorney and apply for probate for you, or you can refuse to act as executor and renounce. Fill in a form of renunciation. You can buy this from a specialist legal stationers or order it from a website such as oyezformslink.co.uk.
If you have any questions about applying for probate, call the Probate and Inheritance Tax helpline on 0845 302 0900.
Q: I've had a small mobile hairdressing business for years and have just taken the plunge and opened a salon. I like to have music playing to create a relaxing atmosphere but a customer has just told me that she thinks I need a licence to play music. Is she right and if so can you give me any idea what I need to do and where to apply to?
FK, via email
Playing music in your workplace, where employees and customers can listen to it, is considered to be a public performance. You need to get permission from the copyright holder to play their music in public. A music licence is a simple way for you to get the permission you need from all the copyright owners.
You need a PRS for Music licence, which can cost as little as £74.58 plus VAT for the year. Ring 0800 694 7322 for help.
Compare with the Independent: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 How We Met: Alison Moyet & Emma Kennedy: 'I knew we'd be friends because she was happy to make a prat of herself'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
iJobs Money & Business
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Database Team Lead ( Leadership, Sybase, Compute...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET D...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET S...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: Trade Suppor...
Day In a Page
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds