Executors - Picking the right people
Mary died in Italy. Years before, she had appointed two executors for her will - her sister and her nephew. Sadly, there were two difficulties with this arrangement. Firstly, her nephew lived in Italy and was obliged to make numerous expensive and time-consuming trips between there and the UK. Secondly, Mary’s sister, just 2 years younger than Mary, was herself in very poor health and barely capable of carrying out her duties.
In this month’s blog, we’ll be looking at the role of an executor and how to choose the person(s) best suited for the task. Some people, when first asked to take on the role, regard it as an honour. Browse through the duties listed below and you’ll probably conclude differently.
An Executor is obliged to fulfil numerous roles - some simple and straightforward - others relatively complex and arduous.
An Executor must ...
- register the death with a Registrar
- obtain a copy of the death certificate
- ensure that any last wishes, such as organ donation are carried out
- plan and pay for the funeral
- have the last original Will of the Deceased (who should have notified the Executor of its location)
- locate all the heirs, listed in the Will as beneficiaries
- compile a list of the assets of the estate: property, bank accounts, investments, debts, unpaid bills, loans etc. Everything, whether
an asset or a debt must be accounted for.
- open a bank account for the estate. It’s critical that estate monies are not confused with the Executor’s personal finances.
- notify all companies, such as utilities, credit card companies, council tax offices etc are all notified.
- make sure that any debts that the deceased might have held are settled, before the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries.
- ensuring that any children or minor dependents are placed in safe care. If the deceased’s wishes are not stated in the Will, then the
courts may have to decide.
- arrange for the care of any pets
- calculate and declare the value of the Estate within 12 months of the death
- pay any inheritance tax due. The Executor is personally responsible for this duty. Failure to carry it out correctly can result in
- complete the relevant forms and submit them to the local Probate Registry, so as to obtain Grant of Probate.
- distribute the contents of the Will, making sure that if Minors are among the beneficiaries, a Trustee has been appointed.
- at the conclusion of the process, the Executor must produce a full set of accounts for the Beneficiaries, showing all the estate’s
assets, liabilities, administration income and expenses, as well as how the state has been distributed.
Potentially hefty financial penalties
As you can see an Executor’s role is an arduous one. The job is difficult and time-consuming. It also entails personal legal (and potentially financial) liabilities. Depending on the complexity of the will, it can take many months before all the duties are fulfilled. Finally, once the work is completed and the assets distributed to the heirs, the Executor may well find themselves deeply unpopular, confronted by numerous dissatisfied beneficiaries.
It’s clear that, when appointing an Executor, there are many factors to be considered. They must be mentally and physically up to the task. They must have sufficient time and energy to complete the role accurately and efficiently.
So - have you been appointed Executor to a Will? Having read above the list of duties and obligations, are you wondering how on earth you’re going to cope? Well, don’t worry. There is professional help available. Although some professional bodies charge a high fee, choose Countrywide and, not only will the work be carried out by highly skilled professionals, the fee will fair and affordable.
Read our next blog to find out about the benefits of appointing a professional to handle the duties of Executor.
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For friendly and affordable support for Executors and Trustees, call 01234 713021 or drop me an email.
After all - I'm here to help.