How long does the process take?
Death: The origins of your case
- The majority of our cases stem from someone who dies
- They may have died in this country or abroad
- Some may have left a Will, but help is needed to trace the heirs
- Most have not left a Will, and have no known close family.
Initial Enquiries (Approx. 2 months)
- When someone dies, immediate enquiries are made by the police, bereavement officers and local authorities to try to find next-of-kin
- If there are no known or traceable next-of-kin, the authorities will not know whom to inform. If no claim is made within 12 years (30 years in exceptional circumstances), the estate goes to the state. This is where Fraser & Fraser's research facilities satisfy a need and help distribute the estate to the rightful heirs.
Fraser & Fraser research (Approx. 12-18 months)
- Using our vast and diverse collection of historical records in our private library, as well as making extensive use of custom-made technology, we will start the task of identifying all those who may be entitled to inherit
- We will contact heirs as we trace them
- Once we have confirmed the identity of an heir, we ask them to sign an agreement.
Legal Procedures (Approx. 12 months, will take longer in complex cases or where the deceased was abroad)
- An administrator must be appointed to act as the personal representative of the estate. The administrator usually instructs solicitors to administer the estate and ensure that all the necessary legal procedures are complied with. We can help you in selecting a firm with specialist expertise in these types of cases
- A grant of probate or letters of administration must be obtained from a probate court
- The assets will be disclosed and sold to convert them to cash. This money will be placed in an account
- The administering solicitors or administrator will start to calculate various taxes: this requires extensive correspondence and may take considerable time. We are unable to speed this stage up for you, as it is dependent on various tax offices
- A statutory notice will be placed. Under section 27 of the Trustee Act 1925, creditors have two months to make a claim
- Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, "dependent relatives" have a 6-month period during which they may make a claim. For this reason, irrespective of other legal issues, it is prudent not to distribute the estate until this 6-month period has lapsed
- Missing Beneficiary Insurance quotes are obtained where this is deemed necessary: insurance companies know the level of professionalism to which we work, and give good rates as a result
- Missing Beneficiary insurance taken where required
- Once all the legal procedures have been completed, the estate can be distributed to all the beneficiaries.
- Once the research finding each heir is completed, the administering solicitors must wait for legal procedures to be completed before they can proceed with the distribution of the estate
- Although there appears to be a gap on the time chart, this is for illustration purposes only - we do not put research on hold!
- Once all the research and legal procedures have been completed, the estate can then be distributed
- The solicitor, who will deduct his or her fees, calculates the final amounts each heir will receive. The solicitor will inform Fraser & Fraser once this has been done
- The final tax invoice and distribution accounts are obtained
- The heirs will usually be paid directly by the solicitor or administrator
- We receive our fees at this stage - usually from the solicitor or administrator.
Larger cases, as well as matters which have an international element to them may take much longer to complete.