Duties of an Executor

28th July 2023 · Power of Attorney

If a friend or family member names you as their Executor, you are responsible for winding up their affairs after their death.

This might not sound too difficult, but in fact, an Executor has a significant number of duties. Below, we will explain what you need to do, starting from the point your friend or family member dies.

Locate the Will and death certificate

Shortly after the death, you need to locate the most recent copy of the deceased’s Will. This confirms that you are indeed an Executor. It also verifies whether anyone else is an Executor (there can be up to four). Additionally, you need to get the original death certificate and several certified copies.

Secure empty property

If the deceased’s property is now empty, be sure to secure it properly and re-direct the mail. You should also tell the home insurance company that it is vacant. You may be asked to check on it regularly, or you may need to take out another policy. An Executor is also responsible for any pets that the deceased left behind.

Inform the necessary organisations

Lots of organisations need to be informed about the death. The Tell Us Once service alerts various government departments in one go, such as HMRC, DVLA and the Department for Work and Pensions. All direct debits and standing orders should also be stopped. To do this, you need to contact the deceased’s utility providers, mortgage lenders/landlord, TV licencing, insurance providers and so on. Ask to close the account and request a final statement.

Set up an Executor’s account

The deceased’s bank accounts are frozen until a Grant of Probate has been obtained, or until you have established that a Grant is not needed. However, you may be receiving money on behalf of the deceased’s estate. To ensure their money does not get mixed up with yours, you might want to set up a separate account. Some banks even offer a specialist Executor’s account.

Value the estate

Next, you need to value the estate. You need to know how much the deceased’s assets are worth. Anything thought to be over £500 should be professionally valued. You also need to know the total sum of the deceased’s debts, including any outstanding mortgages or bills.

Pay any tax due

Once you know the value of the estate, you can calculate whether any Inheritance Tax is due. Currently, the Inheritance Tax threshold for a single person is £325,000 and £650,000 for married couples. If Inheritance Tax is payable, you must settle this bill before proceeding any further. You may need to get an Executor’s loan to do this.

Distribute assets without a Grant of Probate

If the estate is not worth very much, or it is all being transferred to a surviving spouse, then you can go ahead and distribute the deceased’s assets. In these situations, you do not need a Grant of Probate. Nevertheless, you must show each financial institution a copy of the death certificate first, or they will not release the funds.

Get a Grant of Probate

Alternatively, if there is no surviving spouse or the estate is not considered ‘small’, a Grant of Probate is needed. To do this, you must send the following to the nearest Probate Registry – a PA1 form, the correct Inheritance Tax forms, the original Will and three copies, an official copy of the death certificate, and the Probate Registry fee.

Pay any outstanding debts

When a Grant of Probate is issued, you finally have the authority to access the deceased’s assets. The proceeds can then be used to pay any debts, such as credit card bills and the cost of the funeral.

Advertise for creditors

To ensure you do not miss any debts, it is prudent to advertise for creditors. You can do this by placing notices in the local papers and the Gazette. Leave these statutory notices in place for 60 days. After this, you have discharged your duty to find creditors. Otherwise, if a creditor later comes forward, you will be liable.

Run bankruptcy checks on beneficiaries

You are nearly at the stage where you can distribute the estate, as set out under the terms of the Will. Before you do, you should run bankruptcy checks on the beneficiaries. If a beneficiary has previously been made bankrupt, he/she may not be entitled to receive their inheritance outright. Also, if any beneficiaries cannot be found, you have an obligation to find them.

Distribute the estate

Finally, you can give each beneficiary their inheritance. This is not always as simple as it sounds, because the estate may not have enough money left in it to fulfil the deceased’s wishes.

Create estate accounts

During the Probate and estate administration process, you should create estate accounts, detailing income and expenditure to/from the Executor’s account. Each beneficiary should receive a copy of these accounts.

Ask a Probate professional for help

As you can see, an Executor has a lot of duties to complete. To make matters worse, an Executor is also personally responsible for any mistakes that are made. If this sounds too overwhelming for you to deal with, then do not worry – you can ask a Probate professional for help.

Our Probate solicitors act for Executors across England and Wales. We can manage all your responsibilities for you, removing the burden from your shoulders. That way, you can rest easy, knowing that a professional is taking care of everything on your behalf.

Instruct a Professional

Would you like a Probate professional to help you? If so, please call us on 0191 567 7244 or at demi@cooklaw.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

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