I’m an Executor. What do I do?

If you are the executor of someone who has died, then you are the person legally responsible to administer their estate (their money, property and possessions) and to carry out the terms of their Will.  Acting as an executor can be a time-consuming task and a daunting prospect if you are unsure about what to do.

What is the Executor’s role?

Briefly the role of the executor is:

  • To identify and secure the assets and property of the person who has died as soon as possible after the death. You might also need to make sure property and assets are insured.
  • To value the assets. This might include simply obtaining balances on bank accounts. It might include arranging an estate agent’s valuations for property. It might include valuing personal possessions and shares.
  • To report the assets and liabilities of the estate to HMRC and apply for probate. This step is not always necessary and will depend what the assets of the estate are.
  • To collect all assets and money due to the estate. This can include closing bank accounts, claiming on life insurance policies, selling shares, selling personal possessions or houses and land and dealing with other types of asset.
  • To pay all outstanding taxes and debts from the estate. Tax liabilities might include income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax. If debts are not paid you could become personally liable for them.
  • To put the Will into effect. This might include paying monetary gifts contained in the Will, transferring personal possessions or property and distributing the rest of the estate to the people who are entitled to it under the terms of the Will.
  • To set up any trusts that are required by the Will if you are also the Trustee. This might apply if the people who are entitled to inherit are still children or for other reasons.

Do I have to do it?

If you have discovered that you are the executor of someone who has died, then you first need to decide whether you want to take up your role. If you do not want to take on all the work involved you have some options:

  • If you haven’t started dealing with the estate you could decide not to take up your role at all. This is called ‘renouncing’. You might need to sign a ‘Deed of Renunciation’;
  • You could appoint someone else to act on your behalf under a Power of Attorney;
  • You could take up your role as executor but instruct a solicitor to do some or all of the work on your behalf. The legal costs can be paid from the estate.

Here at Alexander Grace we can provide you with expert advice and assistance. We can agree with you which parts of the estate administration you would like to do yourself and which parts you would like us to deal with on your behalf and we can provide you with a competitive quote.  If you are the executor you can decide which solicitor to instruct and you usually do not have to instruct the solicitor who prepared the Will.

Please contact our expert Kate Kendall for further advice on 01282 930403 or kk@alexandergrace-law.co.uk