HAVE YOU BEEN APPOINTED TO ACT AS AN EXECUTOR OF SOMEONE’S WILL?

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HAVE YOU BEEN APPOINTED TO ACT AS AN EXECUTOR OF SOMEONES WILL?

THINKING OF TAKING OUT A GRANT OF PROBATE YOURSELF?

You may have been told that acting as an Executor* is easy.  You just fill in a few forms and send them off to the Probate Registry.  You don’t need the help or advice of a Solicitor.    Seeing a Solicitor will just involve unnecessary expense.  You might like to think again…

Accepting an appointment to act as an Executor is a serious responsibility.  Among other things Executors MUST:-

  • Carry out comprehensive enquiries as to the nature and extent of the Deceased`s assets and obtain accurate date of death figures.
  • Make detailed enquiries as to the Deceased`s debts and liabilities.
  • Prepare an Inland Revenue Account.
  • Maintain or renew any necessary insurance policies.
  • Swear an Oath that the assets and liabilities of the Deceased have been correctly identified and accounted for.

And may need to:-

  • Make enquiries about the Deceased`s tax affairs.
  • Interpret the Will in case of any ambiguity and work out who the beneficiaries are.
  • Deal with disputes between beneficiaries including legal proceedings.

Once you have received the Grant of Probate it will be your PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY to pay the debts of the Deceased, to pay any tax due, to ensure that the assets of the Deceased do not suffer loss or damage and to account to the beneficiaries for their entitlement.  If you fail to do these things properly and carefully you could be personally liable.   Failure to discover a debt due from the Deceased and pay it, for example, could mean that you have to pay it yourself.

You would also have to deal with any Court Proceedings that may be brought against the Estate.  You may find for example that the Will is challenged by someone on the grounds that the Testator lacked testamentary capacity or was under undue influence or simply made a mistake.   Wills can also be challenged by certain relatives and dependants under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

It is important to understand that Executors are Trustees.  Trustees have a legal duty to act in the best interests of the Trust and will be personally liable if they fail to take proper advice, make proper investigations and enquiries and deal with matters promptly.

IT MAKES SENSE TO CONSULT A SOLICITOR

If, as Executor, you instruct a Solicitor to extract the Grant of Probate and act in the administration of the Estate then:-

  • You satisfy the requirement that an Executor or Trustee takes proper advice.
  • Any legal expenses are paid for by the Estate.
  • You will receive professional help and guidance on all aspects of the matter.

DON`T TAKE THE RISK!    CONSULT A SOLICITOR!

*NB   Executors are appointed by Will.  If a person dies without a Will, it may be necessary for the next of kin to apply for what is called Letters of Administration.   Once appointed, an Administrator is in the same position as an Executor and the above comments apply equally to Administrators as to Executors.