What to do first
When dealing with a deceased person’s property, the first thing that must be established is whether or not they left a valid will. This is most likely to be found amongst the deceased person’s personal papers. Otherwise, check with the bank, the deceased’s solicitor or the executor or other organisations that you think the deceased might have asked to look after his or her will.
A will may not look like a legal document so do not destroy any written instructions left by the deceased, as they may in fact turn out to be the will.
A will has to be drawn up in accordance with strict rules (see our section on writing a will) and you may need to seek legal advice to check whether the document you have is valid.
If the will is valid then the deceased’s estate must be distributed in accordance with the terms of the will. However, if there is no will (or the will is legally invalid) the estate must be distributed in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.