Duties and Responsibilities of an Executor

Some Top Tips

Being an Executor can be an honour as well as a burden, particularly, if there are problems with the validity of the will or there are tensions within the family. Here are some top tips on the duties and responsibilities of an executor that might help avoid many of the problems that can arise.

It is a lot of work. You will have to draw on all your inter-personal skills in getting on and communicating with people. A potential executor should make sure he or she knows what they are letting themselves into before accepting the responsibility. If it is going to be too much work or hassle then you can always renounce but you must do this before intermeddling in the estate.

1. How to get there: Immediate Practical Action Checklist:
1.1 Register the death.
1.2 Check the Will re directions for the disposal of the body
1.3 Arrange funeral
1.4 Deceased’s house:
Keep the house until it is distributed to heirs or sold—even deciding whether property needs to be sold at all. Also, an executor must be sure to find all personal property in the estate and protect it until distribution. If the decedent had a safety deposit box, the executor should locate it and keep it safe. In particular:
1.4.1 Remove valuables
1.4.2 Arrange maintenance
1.4.3 Cancel deliveries
1.4.4 Redirect mail
1.4.5 Collect all the keys
1.5 Notify insurers – amend insurance cover, particularly if house empty
1.6 Deal with deceased’s car. Advise DVLA and insurers.
1.7 Any pets? Arrange immediate welfare.
1.8 Obtain the last Will and any subsequent codicil to it and check they are valid.

2. Notify banks, credit card companies and government agencies of the decedent’s death.
Inform utility companies, council tax etc. Your job as an Executor is to identify the deceased’s assets and liabilities, prepare the relevant Inheritance Tax forms, pay any outstanding IHT, make the application for the Grant of Probate, collect in the assets, pay the debts and distribute the net estate in accordance with the Will.

3. A Happy Audience is an informed Audience.
Communicate. Keep the beneficiaries informed. Be transparent and try and be as inclusive as you possibly can be in the circumstances. Do not assume that the beneficiaries understand the process or that it will take time.
Some beneficiaries will be making plans on how they intend spending their inheritance before they have even received the cheque. They will be conscious of the time it is taking to administer the estate and so tensions can occur.

4. Instruct Professionals –“Well you would say that wouldn’t you..!”

Believe me having completed the administration of a number of estates, I know the hassle and the amount of work that is involved for the lay executor. Neither is the work straightforward. Even the smallest of estates can cause problems. There are always hidden problems lurking in the background for the inexperienced lay executor.
Financial and tax advice may be needed as to when is the best time to sell shares or investments. It may be necessary to vary a Will for tax advantages. Estate accounts need to be prepared and approved by the beneficiaries. Sometimes, advertisements need to be inserted in the local press and the London Gazette. Beneficiaries need to be identified and the correct amount of inheritance sent to them based on the approved estate accounts.
The home may have to be sold and estate agents and instructed. Will the beneficiaries accept the offer price for the house?
You can see immediately the potential problems that can occur between you and the beneficiaries.
As an executor you have a duty of care to administer the estate properly and account to the beneficiaries for their inheritance. Taking advice at an early stage should put the administration on a proper footing. The fees for the professionals will come out of the estate and you can always obtain the approval of the beneficiaries.
If you think you have a problem with an estate or need advice and assistance then please contact me. The first meeting will be free.

5. Be transparent with the beneficiaries – tell them what you are doing to progress matters and why you are taking the course of action you intend to take.

Take advantage of our free first meeting facility.
Contact details: Mobile 078855 327 330
Email: rhys@emerituslegal.co.uk

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