I’ve Been Appointed as an Executor in a Will – What Next?
I’VE BEEN APPOINTED AS AN EXECUTOR IN A WILL… WHAT NEXT?
Our Amye Aris answers this often posed question.
Being appointed as an Executor in a person’s will is an honour but also a daunting prospect, especially if you have never dealt with an Estate before. We have put together a few tips on what to do if you have been asked to act as an Executor and where to begin.
- MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE LATEST WILL
It is important that you ascertain firstly whether the deceased left a will. You need to obtain the original if possible, ensure that the will is valid (if unsure speak to a solicitor) and is the last and final one made before they died. Online will registers such as Certainty the National Will Register hold a national database of registered wills and this is a good place to begin your search.
- DECIDE IF YOU ARE WILLING TO ACT
Decide whether you are willing to act on the appointment. Just because someone names you as their Executor – either solely or jointly with others – does not automatically mean that you have to take on that role. You may decide that you do not wish to act as Executor and renounce your position, or let others carry out the role and you are in the background with powers reserved. You may also appoint a professional person such as a solicitor to act on your behalf. Acting as an Executor can be a very time consuming, thankless and often unpaid role. If you do decide to take on the role and are sharing that responsibility with others, then you have to all act jointly and make decisions together.
- REGISTER THE DEATH AND ARRANGE THE FUNERAL
This often falls to the Executor who is also a spouse, child of the deceased or a family member. The will may set out the deceased’s specific wishes in relation to their funeral and you will need to take these into consideration when planning for it. If there is a pre-paid funeral plan, contact the provider as soon as you can. You will also be invoiced for the funeral and will need to arrange payment either from estate funds or reimbursement from the estate. You will need to also inform work colleagues, friends and wider family members of the death and forth-coming funeral arrangements.
- VALUE THE ESTATE
You will need to value all of the assets owned by the deceased as at date of death, including property, bank accounts, cars, jewellery, investments etc. The estate may include assets held jointly with others. Professional valuations of property is always advisable. HMRC recommends having items worth more than £500 valued by a professional person or body.
- PAY BILLS AND OTHER LIABILITIES
You will need to pay any bills or liabilities that fall due out of Estate funds and keep a record of what those are.
You will need to keep an Estate account and then ascertain if the Estate is liable for inheritance Tax. If so, you will need to complete an Inheritance Tax return on forms relevant to the size and value of the Estate. If the Estate is a taxable Estate you will need to send Inheritance Tax forms to HMRC within one year and start paying the tax by the end of the sixth month after the person has died or risk interest falling due. If the deceased received income, then an income tax return may also be required.
- DECIDE IF A GRANT OF PROBATE IS REQUIRED
A Grant of Probate gives you the legal right to deal with someone’s Estate. You do not need a Grant in all circumstances and there are exemptions such as for small Estates, jointly owned assets by spouses etc. If a Grant is required to deal with a deceased’s financial affairs an application to the Probate Registry must be made alongside the Inheritance Tax return. There is a fee in making the application and for additional copies of the Grant.
- DISTRIBUTE THE ESTATE TO THE CORRECT BENEFICIARIES
Once a Grant of Probate is received (if required), the income and assets all cashed in and all Estate liabilities paid in full the Executor must then refer back to the will to ascertain whether any specific item of personal property has been gifted (bequeathed) and carry out that request. They must also account to the beneficiaries named in the will for the remainder of the Estate.
The Executor must distribute in a timely manner to beneficiaries and keep them informed of progress in concluding all matters pertinent to the Estate. If disputes arise the Executor must settle them or seek legal advice in order to do so.
If you are appointed as an Executor in a person’s will we at New Leaf Solicitors have the expertise to help and guide you through the process of Probate. We offer fixed fees and a tiered-fee service depending on the level of advice that is required.
The above is only a guide and not meant as an exhaustive list, nor is it meant as legal advice as we would need a clear picture of all of the facts before advising you with regard to an Estate.
Give us a call on 01908 542 677 or 01788 555 042 to speak to us today.