14th Mar 2017
The days and weeks following the loss of a loved one can be a very difficult and upsetting time. Not only are you grieving but, if you are appointed as an Executor under the Will, you also have several practical steps to take; such as informing interested parties of the death and arranging the funeral.
As an Executor you have a statutory duty to carry out the administration of an estate with care and skill. These duties are intended to ensure that you act in the best interests of the beneficiaries and avoid loss or injury to the estate. If you breach your duties as an Executor you can be held personally liable.
When someone dies there are many tasks that need to be carried out by an Executor as part of the administration of an estate. This may involve making a formal application to a Probate Registry for the Grant of Representation (i.e. a Court issued document proving your entitlement, as Executor, to deal with the estate), in addition to calculating and settling any Inheritance Tax due.
Below are examples of other duties which must be undertaken by Executors in most cases:
- Taking appropriate steps to investigate any later Wills
- Notifying all beneficiaries, as well as any relevant individuals, of the death
- Finding and collecting all the assets
- Locating and settling any and all liabilities (provided the estate is solvent)
- Careful and reasonable management of the estate administration, including taking advice from professionals where necessary
- Keeping accurate records and producing accounts in relation to the administration of the estate
- Considering and settling any Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax and/or Income Tax liabilities for the periods prior to death and during the estate administration
- Accounting to the beneficiaries and correctly distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will
- Adhering to any relevant deadlines
The administration of an estate can be further complicated if there is no Will (known as an intestacy), a claim against the estate or a challenge to the Will, or assets abroad.
Problems and disputes concerning probate are unfortunately on the rise. Whether this is directly linked or not to the increase in the number of probates where the executors are not professionally appointed and are family members instead, is unclear. If you are concerned that the Executors are not acting in accordance with their responsibilities or the deceased’s wishes, you need to seek professional guidance.
Louisa Shailes, Solicitor and Joint Head of the Wills and Probate Team, comments: “Acting as Executor can, in some circumstances, make an already upsetting and stressful time worse. It is possible to administer an estate yourself but you need to be aware that it can be an extremely complicated process and any mistakes that you make could leave you liable. Using Rogers & Norton can help the administration move quickly and efficiently to its conclusion. It also takes away some of the pressure in what can be a very painful time – giving you space to grieve. At Rogers & Norton we have the knowledge and expertise in our Private Client team, to help support and guide you through an involved and testing process.”