Research has shown one in five people only find out they are an Executor of a friend or relative’s Will once the person has passed away. A fifth of Executors are advised prior to the person passing away but only once the Will has been written and it’s too late to say no.
What is your role once you have been appointed an Executor?
You will need to finalise the person’s estate and carry out the wishes contained within their Will. This involves sorting out paperwork, applying for probate if it is required, paying the funeral costs together with any administration costs and debts from the estate monies and distributing any assets to the beneficiaries in line with the Will.
Being an Executor can be stressful and emotional as well as time-consuming. If the Estate is large it can be a complex process applying for probate and assessing what needs to happen to each part of the Estate. When you are dealing with an Estate where beneficiaries do not get along or agree with the contents of the Will, it can become traumatic and argumentative having to deal with these parties.
The first step as an Executor is to consider if you require professional help with your duties. Here at Flackwoods, we offer 30 minutes free advice for new clients so if you do feel daunted, please get in touch for some advice and we’ll be happy to help.
As the Executor, you will need to know who has the Will and you will also need a number of copies of the death certificate to send to companies when dealing with the Estate. Make a list of what you need to do and who you need to contact and methodically work through this. You need to assess if probate needs to be applied for (see our blog here for more details about probate) and then gather the details to do this if so.
Applying for Probate
If you are applying for probate then you will need to detail the assets held by the Estate and in some cases you will need to have these valued e.g. property. You need to list any debts the Estate has including any Inheritance Tax Liability which is payable at a rate of 40% on Estates worth over £325,000. Any tax due or owed needs to be listed and you need to inform HMRC the person has passed away. Once you have collated all this information you can apply for probate by completing the probate form and swearing an oath.
It is important as the Executor to keep communicating with the beneficiaries so they know what is happening and what progress is being made to finalise the Estate. This should help keep the process running smoothly and stress-free at what can be an emotional time. Ensure you keep copies of all paperwork and emails so there is a paper trail showing correct procedures have been followed. These should be kept even after the Estate has been finalised in case they need to be referred to in the future.
If you are appointing an Executor for your own Will:
- Decide you would like to be responsible for carrying out your wishes when you pass away
- Ask the person you are considering before you write your Will
- Check with them they are able and happy to carry out the role and have the time to do this
- Tell the beneficiaries who your Executor is and why you have chosen them
- If you do not have someone you can ask, consider appointing a professional Executor (such as Flackwoods Solicitors)
If you’d like more advice on this subject, please call Flackwoods Solicitors on 01403 738777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.