If you have never written a Will before or have been involved with anyone’s probate, it can be difficult to understand all the different legal terms. If you are asked to be an executor of a Will or if you are considering asking someone for your own Will, it is important to fully understand what this means and the responsibilities involved.
An executor is a person named in a Will who is legally responsible for ensuring the estate of someone who passed away is administered properly. Alternatively, an administrator is someone who is responsible, through the rules of intestacy, to administer a loved one’s estate. If you are an executor or an administrator there are certain rules that you must adhere to.
In many circumstances, a grant of probate is required in order to enable an executor/administrator to deal with the deceased’s estate. It may not be needed if the deceased did not have a large estate, but if there is a property involved or large amounts of funds in a bank account, then a grant will be required.
An executor/administrator must carry out a range of tasks including the following:
- Locating all assets, including shares and monies in bank accounts
- Identifying all liabilities
- Valuing all assets and liabilities
- Ensuring that the deceased’s property is secured and correctly insured
- Settling any potential tax liabilities, such as income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax
- Obtaining the grant of probate
- Selling the deceased’s property
- Preparing estate accounts for the beneficiaries of the estate to account for all funds in the estate
- Correctly distributing funds of the estate either in accordance with the deceased’s wishes or following intestacy rules
- Carrying out bankruptcy searches against beneficiaries before payment can be made to them
An executor/administrator must carry out their duties with care as they can be held personally liable for any loss to the estate which has occurred due to a breach of their duty. Breaches of duty can include a failure to pay any tax due and failure to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the estate.
In many cases, the executors of the Will or administrators of an estate are spouses or children of the deceased who often instruct professionals to help deal with the estate so that they are allowed time to grieve. It is often a relief to have someone help in such difficult times as it is often a very emotional and stressful period of people’s lives.
As solicitors, we are here to ease the stress and help with the administration process. If you are in need of any assistance concerning the administration of an estate, getting to grips with the duties as an executor/administrator or simply want a chat to discuss duties and the process then please do not hesitate to submit an enquiry here or telephone +44 20 7833 4433.