The recent “Freedom Day” feels, at the very least, like the beginning of the end.
But as we begin to think about life returning to normal, the real impact of the pandemic on our financial affairs is only just becoming apparent. Nowhere is more stark than when it comes to dealing with the financial implication of death.
Around 600,000 people die every year in the UK but in 2020 alone we had one of the highest rates of excess deaths in the world.
In England and Wales, almost 80,000 more people died last year from any cause than we might expect in a typical 12 month period.
With warnings of further waves of this disease, fears for the next flu season, and concerns over delayed diagnoses and treatments for other conditions and illnesses, the numbers are set to remain high for many years.
Thousands more people are trying to navigate the closing down of the financial affairs of loved ones and managing the distribution of their assets or estate.
An executor is the name given to the person dealing with the estate of someone who has died. They are named in the will and usually have to apply for the legal authority to deal with everything from finding paperwork and closing bank accounts to settling debts and tax bills on behalf of the deceased.
Up to 4 executors can be chosen by the deceased and although they must be over 18, there are few other restrictions on who these individuals can be. Though some are named because of their professional background and previous relationship with the deceased, executors are often family members or very close friends.
An administrator is someone responsible for the estate when, for example, there is no will or the named executors can’t or won’t take on the responsibility.
Shockingly, around half of UK adults don’t have a will.
Often with little knowledge and limited support, these individuals are coming up against a system rife with delays and inefficiencies at the worst possible time.
The result, according to new research, is a marked deterioration in the mental health of two in every five people.
A quarter suffered financial difficulties as a direct result of a role that typically lasts around five months but takes more than a year for one in ten estates.
Legal professionals themselves are well aware of the problems; 88% think probate – dealing with the estate of someone who has died – is “slow and inefficient” and 52% admit the time it takes is unreasonable.
Solicitors rely on the knowledge of the executor and the documentation they provide to verify assets and liabilities but a third of executors admit they were clueless about the process when they started. One in seven only found out they were named as the executor after the person had died.
A lack of experience may not be an insurmountable problem if the paperwork is up to date but…
Barely half the population has their financial affairs in order at the time of their death.
It means a third of financial accounts only come to light during probate, for example, and legal professionals report that one in 20 cases starts with no details at all, which leads to many of the delays.
Please contact Ollie and the team at Tyto Law to have a chat with us about how we can help you get your affairs in order and peace of mind for you and your loved ones on 01724 642 842 or by email on [email protected].