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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25470
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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My uncle died over the weekend, he was 101, I only learned

Customer Question

My uncle died over the weekend, he was 101, I only learned he was in a nursing home after phoning from oz to his neighbour in broadstairs kent, who eventually gave me the name of the nursing home. that was on Friday, I notified other cousins in the UK, of his situation on Saturday only to hear he died on the Sunday - he had been in the nursing home for 3 months without any of his nieces/nephews being informed. He lived alone, and his neighbour kept an eye on him and helped him when needed, he was very independent, but some time in the past few years he's neighbour became his carer. Last time I was in the Uk I asked him what he wanted done when he did and he told me he wanted to be buried with his wife in Broadstairs and it was all taken care of in his will.
I could be jumping the gun, but do not understand why his carer neighbour didn't notify the nursing home of his extended family, when all the names, addresses and phone numbers were pinned to his fridge, and I wrote at Christmas when I never heard from him, and no family members were notified. My concern is that hes wishes are met etc, I have no idea who hes solicitor was in broadstairs, and didn't think I would have any reason to need to know as I expected his neighbours to let us know if he was ill, and put full trust in them. He would have an estate as he owned his house for years and never had any debts I know of, so would expect their would be ample funds to cover his funeral etc.
My question is, will the solicitor read the will before the funeral to ensure he is buried to his wishes, and do the family (nieces / nephews) have any say in his funeral etc, or is this up to his carer or the nursing home, if there is any dispute.
He has no family other than nieces and nephews, he was married to my late mothers sister who was part of a large family. He had a brother and 2 sisters who to the best of my knowledge are deceased (born 1900, 1902, and 1904).
My uncles name is Earnest (Ernie) Spall, b 13/9/1912 in Essex UK. He died on 23/2/2014
Hopefully there will be no dispute, but he's neighbours (carer) have made no attempt to notify any family members.
Best regards, XXXXX XXXXX
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

Please accept my sympathies for the loss of your uncle.

Joshua :

May I clarify a couple of points with you. You mention your uncle was married. Was he widowed at the time of his death? Did he have any children (natural or adopted but NOT step children) or grandchildren at the time of his passing?

Customer:

Thank you for your sympathies.He was a widower his wife died in 1983 in Broadstairs Kent England, they had no children natural or adopted. So no he had no children or grandchildren at the time of his passing

Joshua :

Thank you. There appear to be two aspects to this - firstly being his care during his lifetime and second his testamentary wishes. With your permission I will take each in turn.

Joshua :

In respect of his care, unless he appointed an attorney, the party with ultimate responsibility in law for his care is the local authority and they must take decisions about his care on a "best interests" basis as required by the Mental Capacity Act.

Joshua :

In making best interests decisions they can but do not have to take account of family and close friends wishes.

Joshua :

There is no duty for the local authority to notify family in respect of decision it makes on a persons behalf. Equally the neigbour wuld have no legal rights other than to give his opinion in respect of your uncles care unless he were appointed attorney.

Joshua :

In respect of your uncles funeral wishes, with your permission I will come to this at the end.

Joshua :

With regards XXXXX XXXXX uncles will, if he made a will this should appoint an executor or executors. The executors have legal authority to administer your uncles will by virtue of s1 Administration of Estates Act and make all decisions in relation to managing your uncles estate and ensuring those beneficiaries named receive their respective entitlements.

Joshua :

Accordingly the first step is to obtain a copy of your uncles death certificate from his local registry office (this is needed to obtain your uncles will) and then to locate your uncles will. This may be kept amongst his papers or at a bank or solicitors office. Unfortunately there is no national registry or database for wills so it is a question of detective work in going thourgh his papers or phoning the local solicitors in the area to ask if they hold a copy or contacting your uncles bank. You can find a list of solicitors local to his area here:

Joshua :

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/find-a-solicitor/#formtop

Joshua :

If you cannot find a will then the right to act as administrator falls to his nearest class of next of kin which may be more than one person.

Joshua :

In the assumption you are able to find a will the executors the original can be obtained by the executor(s) named therein on production of your uncles death certificate. The executors have authority to make decision regarding a funeral and can ensure it is paid for from your uncles bank account by asking the bank to write a cheque for the undertakers directly. Your uncles funeral wishes are not legally binding but should be respected when possible.

Joshua :

If it is not possible to find the will before the funeral must be organised then the nearest next of kin can consider taking a lead role, but should take care not to be made personally liable for funeral costs unless they are happy with this - there is no absolute gurantee they will be reimbursed until it can be confirmed that the estate has sufficient funds to cover the expense.

Joshua :

A solicitor will not automatically read a will before a funeral and in deed is unlikely to know of your uncles death unless a third party contacts them as above to inform them. It is therefore for concerned family members to take an active role as above if they are concerned to ensure that your uncles wishes are respected.

Joshua :

Is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

Thank you Joshua, think you have fully covered everything, I can rest a little easier now, you have been a great help. My uncle looked after my mother when she was ill, when all her family were in Australia, I owe him the right to have his funeral wishes carried out, and know my cousins in the UK will want the same. Thanks again for your help, best regards, XXXXX XXXXX

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