When an individual passes and they have left a Will behind, someone has to take control of the that person’s assets and ensure their estate is administered correctly. This is known as executor and they are legally responsible for ensuring that the directions in the Will are followed and assets and liabilities correctly dealt with. Therefore, if you find that you are an executor of someone's Will, you will need to follow certain rules in order to carry out things properly.
In the majority of instances, a grant of probate is needed for the estate of the person that has passed away. This grant of probate will confirm the appointment of the executors to manage and deal with the assets that belonged to the deceased. It might not always be necessary to obtain a Grant if the estate of the deceased had minimal assets but if there is property involved, a significant amount of money, or certain types of assets, it will be vital that a grant is obtained.
The duties of an executors
An executor can have a significant amount of work to do when it comes to dealing with the estate of someone who has passed away. They will be responsible for locating all assets and identify all debt owed by the deceased and all of these will need to be valued correctly.
At this point, they will also need to make sure that all property is secure and adequately insured. Inheritance tax has to be paid on the estate and so, they will need to make sure that this is paid which may mean assets have to be liquidated to do so.
The executor will also be expected to prepare estate accounts for the residuary beneficiaries and distribute the estate following the terms that are found within the will. Prior to any payments being made, executors will also be required to carry out bankruptcy searches against beneficiaries. They must take great care when carrying out these duties as they could be held personally accountable for any loss incurred by their errors, such as failing to pay all inheritance tax or capital gains tax or failing to distribute funds to a beneficiary.
So, why would you need to seek professional advice?
It is common for executors of a Will to be friends or family members and so, dealing with this just after their passing could prove difficult for them at a time they are beginning to grieve. Professional advice will ensure that everything can be managed and handled efficiently without them having the responsibility of administering the estate of their loved one. Even in those cases where an estate is relatively simple, it can often prove difficult to handle. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for executors to relieve themselves of this pressure and stress by relying on the services of a professional to undertake all the work for them.
So, while an executor has an important role to play, there is professional help waiting for them if they need it.