Our Probate Services

What to do when someone dies

When a loved one, relative, or close friend dies, it can be overwhelming working out what needs to be done. You may find out that you are the Executor of someone you know, or a close loved one may just have died and you are not sure where to start.

This page will provide you with the initial steps to take, but if you need urgent advice, call our friendly probate team on 01273 604123.

Your Free Guide


As expert probate solicitors, we talk to many families who are coping with the loss of a loved one at the same time as trying to deal with the legal process of probate. When many of our clients first call us, they often ask if they really need a solicitor for probate.

Step 1: Establish if the individual held a Will

It is very important to know:

  1. Who is authorised to make decisions when someone dies, and
  2. If the individual who has passed away had any specific instructions in relation to the steps immediately following their death.

A Will provides this information and sets out what should happen when someone passes away.

If the person has died without a Will, their loved ones will need to apply for Letters of Administration. Read more about dying without a Will here.

Step 2: Register the death

Depending upon the circumstances under which an individual has passed away, there may be various medical and other professionals involved. A doctor will often provide you with a medical certificate of cause of death. You will then need to contact the registrar at the Register Office, as soon as possible, to register the death. The registrar will formalise the individual’s passing and provide you with a Death Certificate. You can ask for copies of this, which can be used later on as evidence of the individual’s death.

The registrar will require quite a few details, such as the deceased’s full name, address, date of birth, and place of birth – so it is a good idea to have these ready.

If you would like assistance with registering the death, our team can help. Speak to us now on 01273 604123 or email enquire@bbc-law.co.uk.

Step 3: Arrange the funeral

You may have questions about how the funeral will be paid for, or who has authority to make decisions about the funeral. If somebody leaves a Will, they may leave instructions in relation to this which will assist you. If someone passes away without a Will, you may need to check if you are entitled to make these decisions.

We can assist with registering the death and arranging the funeral if you feel unable to do so.

Step 4: Notify those who should be informed that the individual has died including relatives and friends

This is another step which many of our clients ask for help with. After these personal steps have been taken and the funeral has taken place, it is necessary to look at the legal process when someone dies. This is called probate.

Step 5: Probate

The role of an Executor involves a significant administrative burden and responsibility which can be a lot to manage alongside your everyday life. After losing a loved one, it is likely to be a difficult task to face.

As expert probate solicitors, we can assist with all legal, tax, and administrative work, including but not limited to:

  • Establishing the assets and liabilities in an estate
  • Arranging valuations of assets in the estate that are Inheritance Tax compliant
  • Submitting the correct estate information to HMRC as part of the administration process
  • Arranging payment of any Inheritance Tax due and claiming available allowances
  • Obtaining the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
  • Selling or transferring all assets within the estate
  • Arranging payment of the debts within the estate
  • Preparing the Estate Accounts
  • Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the Will

One legal service doesn’t fit all – we tailor our services to what fits you best. You might want to clear the property, deal with utility bills, and distribute items that have been left to individual beneficiaries. Alternatively, you may find yourself in a position where you need a more hands-on approach from us. We will work with you to achieve the best solution.

A quick note on risk

The Executors or Administrators of an estate are personally responsible for dealing with probate when someone dies. Read our guide for Executors here.

Executors face financial penalties from HMRC for submitting incorrect information, even if the inaccuracy was a mistake. Additionally, every time the Land Registry or Probate Registry make a query about your applications, your matter is pushed to the back of the queue.

If you choose to take on the probate without the help of an expert probate solicitor, you must be sure you know enough to not make any mistakes and that you are happy to deal with the stress of these complicated matters to go on for 12 months and sometimes longer.

Our clients decide it’s easier, cheaper, more professional and quicker to employ us to do the work for them. We can help take the weight off your shoulders, whether this involves assisting you with specific tasks or taking over the whole case.

Get the support that you need as an Executor

With over 125 years’ experience working for generations of families, we have an expert understanding of the things you need to do when someone dies, and the support that our clients need. When you call our office, you will speak to our understanding and supportive team, who will listen to your unique circumstances, and then advise you on the next best steps. Call us on 01273 604123 or email enquire@bbc-law.co.uk.

Stephanie Batts

Stephanie is Head of Probate within our Private Client Department.

Read More About Stephanie
What a great firm, I have used them recently regarding my late mother’s probate. Stephanie was polite, professional, nothing was too much...I felt my late mother’s business was in great hands.

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Speak to one of our solicitors today. We would love to hear from you and discuss any legal issues you may have and how we can assist you.

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30 Old Steine, Brighton, BN1 1FL