Responsibilities of an Executor
When a loved one dies, grieving family members and friends often find themselves appointed as the executor of their estate. Dealing with an estate can be a daunting task with a number of legal obligations and strict timescales at what is a very difficult time in their lives.
What is an Executor?
The person appointed in the will to deal with the estate of the person who has died. If there are trusts in the will then the executor may also be a trustee of those ongoing trusts.
If you are appointed as an executor in a will it is very important to consider whether you wish to accept the appointment. Dealing with the administration of an estate can be very time consuming and once you accept your appointment and begin dealing with an estate it is not possible for you to step down.
What does an Executor do?
The executor is responsible for registering the death and, depending on the deceased’s family situation, may also be responsible for arranging the funeral.
The executor must value the deceased’s estate as at the date of death, this would include their bank and building society accounts, stocks and shares, investment portfolios, life policies, residential property, business property and personal belongings. They also need to ascertain the extent of the deceased’s liabilities such as the funeral account, credit cards, loans, mortgages, income tax and unpaid utility bills.
They must also consider and investigate any gifts made by the deceased in the seven years before they died as they may be relevant for Inheritance Tax purposes.
The executors have a duty to protect the estate for the people who benefit from it. This includes ensuring that any valuable assets, such as the deceased’s home, are insured.
The executor is responsible for preparing and submitting Income and Capital Gains Tax returns for the period up to the date of death and the period they are administering the deceased’s estate. They must also complete an Inheritance Tax return, consider what Inheritance Tax reliefs may be available to the estate and arrange the payment of any tax due.
Application for a Grant of Probate
Depending on the size and nature of the assets in the estate, the executor will likely have to make an application for a Grant of Probate. This is a document issued by the Court which proves the executor’s entitlement to administer the estate. This document is required to sell the deceased’s property, their shares and investments and close down their bank accounts.
Distributing the Estate
Once all the estate assets have been collected in, the executor will be responsible for distributing the estate to those who are entitled to it. They are known as beneficiaries. Before doing this, the executor will need to ensure that all the estate liabilities have been settled and all the estate administration expenses have been paid. They will also need to obtain Income and Inheritance Tax clearance. Finally, they will need to ensure that there is no possibility of a claim being made against the estate either by a disappointed beneficiary or an unknown creditor. If this is the case, the distribution of the estate should be delayed until such claim is resolved.
When the executor is satisfied that the estate is ready to be distributed they will need to prepare a set of estate accounts starting at the date of death to show the beneficiaries exactly what has happened during the estate administration and how the they have calculated the amount due to them.
Specialist probate solicitors
A specialist probate solicitor will help an executor carry out their duties. The level of help required will depend on how much of the work an executor is able to carry out independently. Some people find they can manage some of the work involved but engage a solicitor to assist with completing tax forms and obtaining the Grant of Probate. At Gregg Latchams, we offer a range of probate and estate administration services and you can choose how and when you need our assistance.
Further information about our probate services and the costs involved can be found here. To make an appointment with one of our specialist probate and estate administration solicitors, please call 0117 906 9400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org