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What does an Executor of a Will do?

Pen, paper and coffee

Becoming the executor of someone’s will and estate can be a daunting prospect. It’s an honour but can also be a burden, particularly if you’ve not got a good understanding of what your new role entails. At Flackwoods, we’ve years of experience at helping people not only choose their executor but also guide newly-appointed executors in their role. But what exactly does an executor do and what are they responsible for?

Registering the death

Perhaps one of the first tasks an executor will have to take care of is registering the death of their loved one; not a nice task but one that’s necessary all the same. A death must be officially recorded in order to obtain a Death Certificate and can be done at the nearest Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in your local area. It’s not a pleasant job but is one that can be done by the executor of the will and so it’s vital that you do this as early as possible. It’s normally handy to get a few copies of the Death Certificate as they can be useful later down the line when handling the administration of the estate.

Planning a funeral

Before they die, your loved one may detail funeral preferences or instructions for organ donation; the executor is responsible for making sure these wishes are met. Again, the planning of a loved one’s funeral is not a task that’s welcomed but is a hugely necessary part of being someone’s legal executor. Funerals can be expensive and the deceased’s bank accounts will be frozen upon death but it’s important as the executor of the will to ensure there are sufficient funds to cover the cost of a funeral. A bank may release funds on receipt of a funeral invoice. Check first to see if the deceased has already paid for their funeral under a pre-paid plan as this is often done in later life.

Keeping assets safe

As the executor, you’re responsible for ensuring any assets of the deceased are kept safe until they can be properly distributed according to the will. In general, executors are required to keep any money from the estate completely separate to their own funds so setting up a new bank account is a key responsibility of the executor. It can also help ease the process of paying off any of the estate’s debt to creditors further down the line.

Another important responsibility is to ensure that anyone named in the will to inherit money or property is contacted as soon as possible to ensure what’s detailed in the will goes to the right person. Keeping assets safe and in order is a huge part of the executor’s role.

Paying off debts and final income taxes

Before any inheritance can be distributed, all of the deceased’s debts and creditors need to be settled and it’s the executor who’s responsible for ensuring this happens. Notifying all creditors of the death of the individual is key, as is establishing how they’d like to proceed with settlement. Equally, the executor has to ensure that the deceased’s income taxes have been paid up to date and all affairs are in order. It can be a complicated, stringent task but is necessary before anyone named in the will can receive their inheritance.

Settle the mortgage

It an individual dies with an outstanding mortgage on their property, this has to be settled quickly to ensure additional debt is added to the estate. If the property is inherited by someone named in the will, the mortgage company will either look for the mortgage to be paid off in full immediately or they can ask the person that inherits the property to take over the mortgage going forward. In many cases, a life insurance policy taken out by the deceased before death will cover the mortgage in case of death or a mortgage protection policy may be in place to pay any outstanding mortgage. If the property is to be sold, the mortgage must be paid out of the money made by the sale of the property in question.

If you want to find out more about the role of an executor, get in touch with Flackwoods today on 01403 738 777 or email info@flackwoods.co.uk.

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