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A Guide to an Executor’s Duties

A Guide to an Executor’s Duties

When you agree to become the executor of an estate, you may not fully appreciate the duties that come with the role. Probate solicitors can talk you through the role and duties of an executor and help you administer the estate, reducing the hassle, time commitment and potential personal liabilities you face when acting as an executor of an estate.

Contact our team today to find out how we can help you. 

What is an executor?

An executor is a person named in a Will as responsible to sort out the estate of a deceased. The estate is the deceased’s property and assets less any liabilities. The assets in the estate will need to be gathered and distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Will.

An executor can be a relative, friend, professional advisor or probate lawyer. The appointment gives the executor the legal authority to act but with that authority comes responsibilities and duties.

If you have been nominated as a lay executor in a Will and you find the role too onerous, or you are concerned about potential liabilities, you can ask a probate solicitor to work with you to deal with the estate.

The duties of an executor

The legal and tax duties of an executor include:

  • Applying for probate
  • Sorting out any claims against the estate or challenges to the Will 
  • Completing an inheritance tax (IHT) return and submitting it to HMRC and paying any IHT due
  • Sorting out any other outstanding tax issues, such as income tax or capital gains tax
  • Selling property or assets that form part of the estate so the estate can pay any debts and you can distribute the remainder of the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will
  • Finding any money that forms part of the estate and locating any beneficiaries who are named in the Will
  • Preparing estate accounts to show monies received and paid out
  • Distributing the estate by paying any legacies and arranging for the balance to be distributed to the residuary beneficiaries

An executor’s accountability

Acting as a lay executor is not without risk. An executor is legally responsible for:

  • Administering the estate in accordance with the Will and the law
  • Everything they do (or do not do) when administering the estate

Accountability means that if you get things wrong you could be personally liable for any loss. For example, if IHT is underpaid, or if you pay a beneficiary too much money leaving the residuary beneficiaries with less than they should have received, you could be personally responsible for the shortfall.

If you are concerned about that level of responsibility and potential liability, or if you simply do not want to fall out with family because you think they will be critical about the time you will take to administer the estate, you can ask a probate solicitor to administer the estate for you. Their fees will not be your responsibility as they will be paid out of the estate.

Working with a probate solicitor keeps you involved with the estate as the lawyers will need to run things past you for approval and will ask you to sign paperwork but a probate solicitor should take the stress out of acting as an executor.

Speak to our Bournemouth-based Probate Lawyers today

Solomons Solicitors can help with Will writing, probate and the administration of an estate. For a free initial consultation, call us today on 01202 802 807 or use our online enquiry form.

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