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Can I wind up estate myself in Scotland?

Recently, we have noticed more people trying to wind up estates themselves – particularly where it seems the deceased’s only assets were held bank accounts. While an Executor may choose to handle the deceased’s estate without legal help, even small estates can be challenging to wind up without an understanding of the legal process.

In this article, we look at the steps needed to wind up an estate effectively, and why you should instruct a solicitor. To discuss your needs with a member of our experienced team, call us on 0141 620 0800 or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you right away.

Challenges When Winding up an Estate in Scotland

Although no two estates are the same, this outline is designed to provide a general overview of the required steps to wind up an estate in Scotland:

Gathering and Valuing Assets

Firstly, you need to obtain enough copies of the death certificate to allow you to carry out your duties and inform all relevant institutions about the death.

The Executor must then gather all of the deceased’s assets including any property, investments and personal belongings. This can be challenging when they are not identified in the Will or there is no Will at all. Failure to consider all of the deceased's assets may well result in substantial legal fees that could have been saved had the correct legal advice been sought in the first instance. 

Once all the assets have been gathered, they must be correctly valued. If the deceased held specialist items, e.g. valuable art or wine, the asset valuation can be difficult. Instructing the help of a solicitor can ensure that any estate complexities – such as foreign assets – are accounted for from the outset.

Paying Tax

If the estate is worth more than £325,000, Inheritance Tax (IHT) must be paid before you can obtain Confirmation. When calculating IHT and other taxes, you want to ensure you take advantage of all relevant reliefs.

Complications may arise when assets come to light after IHT has been paid, causing a delay in the process. Issues can also occur if there is not enough available cash to pay the IHT calculation. In such circumstances, you may wish to speak with someone about your legal options for borrowing funds.

Obtain Confirmation

To apply for Confirmation, you must submit the relevant forms to the Sheriff Court. For those settling an estate worth less than £36,000, the sheriff clerk’s office can provide assistance. However, if you decide not to instruct a solicitor for a large estate, you’ll be expected to complete all the appropriate forms yourself.

If the deceased had a house or other assets, these may need to be included in Confirmation – the Executor must check whether or not there needs to be any legal intervention in terms of the title. You must always check if the title deeds include a survivorship clause. When the deceased owned property with another, a survivorship clause is typically used so that the value of the deceased’s share automatically transfers to the surviving owner on their death. We have seen occasions where the Executor tried to sell the house, only to discover they have no title to do so. If the house is not properly included in Confirmation, this could end up costing the estate more as it might be necessary to submit additional Confirmation.

Distribute the Estate

After the assets are collected and Confirmation is granted, the Executor has the authority to pay any debts of the estate. When this is settled, you can pay any legacies outlined in the Will and distribute the estate accordingly.

Whether you are dealing with a small or large estate, the Executor is legally responsible for any mistakes made during the winding up process. An experienced executry solicitor can help to ensure every step of the procedure is handled correctly.

Contact our Executry Lawyers in Clarkston, Newton Mearns, Giffnock, Netherlee, Eaglesham, Carmunnock, Stewarton & Southside Glasgow today

At Claphams Solicitors, we can help you obtain Confirmation and provide practical advice throughout the entire process of winding up an estate. Whether you are looking to instruct a solicitor for part of the winding-up process, or want legal guidance from start to finish, we can provide you with the support you need during this challenging time. To speak to one of our executry lawyers contact Claphams Solicitors today by calling 0141 620 0800 or completing the online contact form.

LBTT threshold in Scotland increased to £250,000 -...
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Please note we are a firm of Scottish Solicitors helping clients across Scotland and cannot help you if you are based in England.