When someone dies there can be all sorts of emotional and personal issues to deal with.

There are also legal issues that need to be taken care of, particularly in terms of the person's estate. This means things that belonged to them like houses and cash.

People sometimes make wills before they die which set down what they wish to happen to their estate. In other cases there might not be a will and a legal process called intestacy sets down rules for how these situations must be handled. 

If you are named as an executor or an administrator of someone's estate you might need to apply for a legal document called probate, or another permission called a letter of administration, before you can do anything with that estate.

This is not always the case though and if it is not clear it is best to take legal advice on the situation. Many people prefer to use a lawyer to help them take forward their probate requirements. You can find out more about different types of lawyers and how to find one in our types of lawyers page.

Probate and letters of administration can be provided by local organisations called Probate Registries. You will need to apply for them though and provide information.

To get the facts and documents you need, you can visit HM Courts and Tribunals Service to get started. You can also get help from Citizens Advice's online guide

Also see the list of terms relating to wills that we have defined in our legal dictionary: