The Role of An Executor
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If you’ve been made an executor by a family member or a loved one you might not know exactly what it involves. If you do, fine, but if you’d like a little help and advice, at Eatons we are experts in probate law and are in a perfect position to assist or even take over the responsibilities on your behalf.
There are a number of these that may well include all or some of the following:
• Registering the death
• Making funeral arrangements
• Valuing the estate
• Arranging for inheritance tax to be paid
• Applying for probate
• Sorting out the deceased's finances
• Distributing the estate
• Keeping estate accounts.
The first thing that has to be done is to register the death within five days at the nearest registry office by taking along either the death certificate signed by a doctor or, alternatively, permission from the coroner that the death can be registered.
Once this has been done, a certificate for burial or cremation will be issued and funeral arrangements can be made. It’s important at this point to see if the deceased has left any instructions for their funeral or has a funeral pre-payment plan which will meet most of the costs of the service.
Hopefully, there will also be a will in existence in which it will stipulate the identity of the executor/s. This can then be used to apply for a Grant of Probate giving you the right to administer the assets of the deceased.
Before you obtain this there are certain steps that need to be taken.
The first of these is to calculate the Inheritance Tax that is due on the estate and agree this with HMRC and ensure that this is paid. The Grant of Probate can’t be released until this has been done, or an arrangement has been made with HMRC for payment in instalments.
When probate has been declared, the executor’s duties include settling all debts that may be outstanding and, once these are all settled, they can start to distribute the estate as stipulated in the will.
To do this, the executor will need to start releasing the assets and this may include arranging for the sale of a property and the cashing in of investments. This may not be absolutely necessary as they may just be transferred to beneficiaries of the will
It could be that some beneficiaries will be happy to receive the assets themselves, while others may want everything sold and the proceeds distributed in accordance with the will.
Finally, to demonstrate they have administered the estate properly the executor should keep full records and prepare a final set of accounts for the estate. These accounts should be shown to beneficiaries and their approval of the accounts sought.
Acting as an executor means carrying out your loved one's last wishes and can be an invaluable help to the family, but the responsibilities of an executor are extensive and carry considerable personal liability, so it is important to seek specialist advice if you are unsure about any aspect of the process.
At Eaton's, we have a great deal of experience of advising all kinds of clients about carrying out executor’s duties and related legal matters. So if you’d like to find out more, why not arrange an initial appointment today?We are always on the lookoutfor new solicitorsl for more information fill out one of our 3 forms linked above.
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