An Executor is responsible for applying for a Grant of Probate and administering a deceased person’s estate.
If you are an Executor and you would like the help of a Probate lawyer, please contact us at Breens Solicitors. Contact us now for a free initial enquiry.
What is an Executor?
When someone writes a Will, he/she has the opportunity to name Executors. These people are responsible for winding up their affairs following their death.
If your friend or relative has named you as an Executor, you do not have to do anything during their lifetime. Following their death, you must carry out numerous administrative, legal and tax-related tasks.
Below, we explain what an Executor is responsible for, starting from the moment your loved one dies.
After the death
When your friend or family member dies, locate the latest version of their Will. This confirms that you are indeed the Executor. The deceased may also have named other Executors. If so, you must work together. One of you can take the lead, but you and your co-Executors must be united in your decisions.
It is necessary to register the death and arrange the funeral. These are not strictly part of an Executor’s duties, but you may have to complete them, if no one else can. You may also need to tell government bodies, such as HM Revenue & Customs, about the death. You can do this using the ‘Tell Us Once’ service.
You should secure any vacant property. You need to re-direct the post, tell the utilities providers about the death, and inform the home insurance company. You must also tell the deceased’s bank, pension providers and mortgage company. Direct debits should be cancelled and the balance of any debts verified.
Value the estate
Following this, you can value the deceased person’s estate. You must value all their assets, which can take some time. If an asset is thought to be worth more than £500, a professional valuation is recommended. You must also calculate the value of the deceased’s debts, such as a mortgage and bills.
When you have done this, you can figure out whether a Grant of Probate is needed. Probate is not required for small estates where the deceased owned very little. It is also not required if all the assets are passing to a joint owner.
You must also calculate whether or not Inheritance Tax is due.
Apply for a Grant of Probate
If a Grant of Probate is needed, the next step is to prepare an application to the Probate Registry. As an Executor, you must fill out the PA1 form and an Inheritance Tax form. You must send these to the Probate Registry, along with an official copy of the death certificate, the original Will and three copies, and the Probate Registry fee.
If Inheritance Tax is payable, you must pay this before applying for a Grant of Probate. This can present difficulties, because you may have to pay it out of your own pocket. You can recuperate this money when the estate is eventually administered.
Administer the estate
When a Grant of Probate is issued, it gives you the legal authority to access the deceased’s assets and wind up their affairs. This process is known as estate administration. Your duties depend on the type of assets the deceased owned. For example, if he/she owned property, it must be sold or the ownership transferred.
Any outstanding tax and debts must also be paid. You will already have paid the Inheritance Tax, but there may be other tax liabilities, such as Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax. There may also be other bills to pay and debts to settle. To ensure no debts are overlooked, it is wise to advertise for creditors in the local papers for at least two months.
Next, you can distribute the estate according to the terms of the Will. If a beneficiary is missing, you are obliged to try to find him/her. Also, you should check whether the beneficiaries have been made bankrupt, as this may affect their entitlement to an inheritance.
Finally, you must draw up estate accounts for the beneficiaries to approve.
Help for Executors
The role of an Executor is not an easy one. The entire process can take many months to complete. In complex estates, it can take years. This can be costly, both in terms of time and money.
That is why Executors are allowed to ask Probate solicitors for help. A Probate solicitor will carry out all the work on your behalf, relieving you of your duties. This lifts a huge responsibility from your shoulders, and limits your personal liability.
If you are an Executor and you would like the help of a legal professional, contact us now for a free initial enquiry.