If you have been appointed as an executor in a Will you might consider dealing with the administration of the estate without instructing a solicitor but before you do so you should think carefully.

As the executor you are the person legally responsible for making sure the estate is properly administered. This means that if something is not done correctly you could be held accountable. In some cases this could even mean that you have to pay personally to put things right. You should think about the following potential pitfalls:-

  • Are you sure there is no later Will? How can you protect yourself if you act upon this Will and another one is then found?
  • Have you properly understood the terms of the Will and any legal provisions contained within it?
  • Do you fully understand all the taxes that the executor must deal with? The most obvious tax is inheritance tax but even in low value estates there might be income tax or capital gains tax to deal with.
  • As the executor you must ensure that all the debts of the person who died are paid from the estate.

If you distribute the estate to the beneficiaries and then find out there is a debt you should have paid you might be responsible to pay this yourself. Do you know how you can protect yourself against this?

  • The Will might set up a trust – for example it might say that money has to be held in trust for a child until they reach 21. As the executor you will usually also be the trustee responsible for managing this trust. Trusts can have complicated tax consequences. Do you understand your duties as a trustee and any tax that you might need to pay from the trust fund?

Acting as an executor is a big responsibility but an executor is entitled to seek legal advice and assistance and for the legal costs to be paid from the estate. If you need advice on an estate, please contact our expert Kate Kendall on 01282 930403 or kk@alexandergrace-law.co.uk