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Probate Solicitors Limited - Responsibilities of Executors

What must an executor or personal representative do?

Duties of an Executor

Being an executor for an estate carries with it responsibilities which could lead to personal liability if anything goes wrong. These duties and responsibilities can be broken down into 3 areas; administration, legal and financial. As the executor or the administrator of an estate you can appoint a solicitor to carry out the duties on your behalf. By appointing a solicitor to undertake the role you will be assured of a professional service underwritten by insurance so you will not be left with any personal liability if things go wrong.

Administration duties of an executor or personal representative

  • Register the death if it hasn’t already been done (this must be done within five days)
  • Evaluate the estate and gather details of parties who are likely to have any claim to it
  • Value any assets
  • If there are jointly held assets - transfer them to the surviving owner
  • Establish any liabilities / debts that the deceased was responsible for
  • Notify parties including Government bodies and financial institutions (see here)
  • Where necessary you may need to arrange to sell property, shares or other assets (check any CGT liability first)

Executors are generally expected to deal with an estate within 12 months of death, this is known as the "executors' year". However be aware that Inheritance Tax, if payable, must be paid within 6 months otherwise interest is payable on top.

Financial duties of an executor or personal representative

  • Collect in all the assets that belong to the estate (Check first whether it may be better to keep the investment and transfer it before cashing it in).
  • Pay any debts owed by the deceased and the estate
  • Calculate and pay any Inheritance Tax due and complete the necessary tax return
  • Calculate and pay any Capital Gains Tax or Income Tax due
  • Prepare the estate accounts
  • Distribute the assets of the estate in accordance with the Will or the intestacy laws

Legal Duties of an executor or personal representative

  • Find the deceased’s Will
  • Establish whether the Will is legally valid and is the latest Will
  • Determine whether a deed of variation should be considered (within 2 years of death to be tax effective)
  • If there is no Will you must identify who has the legal responsibility to administer the estate
  • The administrator must identify all the beneficiaries
  • Prepare the probate and tax forms and submit them
  • Identify whether any trusts have been created
  • If a trust is created you must set it up and administer it (it may also need to be registered with HMRC)
  • Place a notice for creditors in the London Gazette and local paper to comply with the Trustee Act 1925
  • Deal with any claims made against the estate
  • Ensure that you fully understand the legal procedures and duties so that you avoid any personal liability later

If you would like to help or a quotation for probate services please contact us on 01564 758055

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