Are you appointed as an executor in a will? Perhaps a family member or close friend wishes for you to fulfil the role when the time comes. Do you know what an executor needs to do and the duties imposed?
It can be an honour to be asked to be an executor but along with it comes certain responsibilities and potential liabilities.
Firstly, let’s demystify the difference between an attorney and an executor.
An attorney is appointed under either an enduring power or lasting power. Their role is to manage the personal affairs of the donor – the person who grants the power – during their lifetime. Upon the donor’s death, the power of attorney dies with them. The attorney should cease to act.
An executor is appointed by a will. If no will exists, a statutory order of priority dictates as to who the personal representatives are. Their role, both executors and personal representatives, is to administer the estate and to distribute it in accordance with the terms of the will or rules of intestacy.
So, to expand on the duties:
- Notifying and corresponding with relevant organisations to gather together information regarding the deceased’s assets;
- Compiling a record of the deceased’s assets and liabilities;
- Paying bills, debts and discharging any other amounts owing from the estate;
- Searching for any unclaimed or missing assets;
- Distributing the legacies (specific sums to named persons/personal possessions);
- Preparing and distributing estate accounts to the appropriate parties;
- Distributing the remainder of the estate (residue) to the beneficiaries;
- Following the Testator’s wishes as closely as possible.
- Applying for a grant of probate (this may not always be necessary) to verify that the executors/personal representatives have the authority to deal with the deceased’s assets. This can often be required by the institutions and authorities that hold assets in the deceased’s name;
- Identifying and dealing with any claims against the estate.
- Completing the appropriate inheritance tax return (where necessary) and paying any inheritance tax due;
- Completing any income and capital gains tax returns and paying any outstanding tax due.
In essence, the executors/personal representatives have many tasks to perform.
And, if the above hasn’t put you off accepting the position, consider this – if you have a co-executor and fail to keep an eye on their conduct, you might be held responsible for their failings, if they make a mistake which causes a loss to the estate.
More often than not, executors will seek the assistance of a solicitor to act on their behalf and ensure that all duties have been performed correctly. By doing so, they can afford themselves some protection and unnecessary worry.
If you need advice as you have been asked to be an executor or have to exercise you duties, then Law-Match can help.
Not only does Law-Match put you in touch with a lawyer within one hour of your enquiry, you will also have a telephone or face to face consultation at no charge. This means you can explore your options and quickly make informed decisions, without spending a single penny. The Law-Match network of firms will also guarantee that you will benefit from a discounted rate on their standard charges, or wherever possible no win-no fee, to give you even more peace of mind.
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