Executors to a Will – Duties Explained.

Executors are persons appointed to deal with the administration of an estate when you pass away having made a will. The fundamental duty of an executor is to collect and get in the deceased’s estate (to including your property, investments, shares and securities, bank accounts) with due diligence and then to administer it according to the law. Reasonable steps must be taken to preserve the deceased’s estate and, within a reasonable time, an executor must pay any debts and taxes and realise the assets in accordance with the terms of the deceased’s will.

Being named as executor in a will can bring with it complicated, difficult and time-consuming duties which can take up to a year or more to complete. It is crucial to get everything right because the executor is legally responsible for administering the estate in accordance with the terms of the will and the law. An executor is responsible for everything they do or fail to do when administering the estate.

Acting as the executor of a will can also be a very daunting prospect because of the amount of legal, tax and administrative responsibilities. An executor's responsibilities last for the duration of the administration of the estate and can also carry on afterwards if there are trusts.

Some of the main duties and responsibilities of an executor can include: -

  • Notifying all relevant asset holders and government bodies of the deceased’s passing in order to settle the deceased’s debts and cash in the deceased’s assets.
  • Applying to the Court for the Grant of Probate (the key document required to unlock access to many assets in an estate)
  • Preservation and maintenance of the deceased’s assets pending sale or transfer to ensure they retain their value, to include checking on any unoccupied property regularly and review of the deceased’s portfolio of stocks and shares.
  • Completing and submitting the Inheritance Tax (IHT) return and paying any inheritance tax owed
  • Completing the relevant Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax returns and paying any outstanding tax owed
  • Dealing with any valid claims against the estate by creditors or relatives/dependants under inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants Act 1975)
  • Preparing estate accounts to reflect all assets received, debts paid and administration expenses incurred.
  • Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries in the will.

Here to Help

Being appointed an executor can be a daunting and difficult task. It is therefore important that you carefully consider who would be both willing and suitable to carry out this role for you prior to any appointment. Our job at Lanyon Bowdler, when instructed to act on behalf of executors of an estate, would generally be to advise on all aspects of the estate and to take appropriate action on their behalf to ensure efficient management and conclusion.

Lanyon Bowdler can also be appointed as professional executors to your will. A professional executor will take on all of the responsibility of executing your estate, sparing your loved ones from the burden. This can be a difficult time for those close to the deceased, and employing a professional can make this challenging time slightly more straightforward. Wills can be complex legal documents, especially if they contain many clauses or there is a large estate to manage. A professional executor will know how to manage these issues.

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