The executor of the Will is the person who has to sort your estate out when you’ve died. Sounds quite straightforward until you realise some of the things that they have to do.
In no particular order:
- finding all the financial documentation belonging to the person who die
- sending a copy of the death certificate to the organisations that hold the money of the person who has died. Ask them for confirmation of the value of the money held at the date of death and the amount of income received during the last tax year up to the date of death. Also ask them to freeze the bank accounts so no one can take money out without the correct legal authority
- opening a bank account on behalf of the estate
- finding out details of money owed to the estate
- finding out details of money owed by the person who has died
- preparing a detailed list of the property, money and possessions and debts in the estate
- working out the amount of inheritance tax due and arranging to pay it
- preparing and sending off the documents required by the probate registry and HM Revenue and Customs
- when probate or letters of administration has been granted, collecting in money belonging to the estate from banks, insurance companies, pension funds and building societies
- paying debts, expenses and fees, such as solicitors’ fees and probate fees
- sharing out the estate, as set out in the will or according to the rules of intestacy.
As can be seen there is quite a lot to do which can be shared amongst the executors (we always advise having more than one).
Who can be an executor?
Pretty much anyone who is 18 years old and with mental capacity, including family, friends, solicitors, accountants and banks. Obviously if you are using a professional you are very likely to be charged so be careful with the fees.
What makes a good executor?
Above all you must choose somebody you trust. It’s going to be up to them to follow the instructions in your will and to find fair solutions to any disagreements.
If your executor’s good at paperwork and managing legal issues it will be helpful. And if you choose more than one executor, they may decide to divide up the work.
Most estates can be dealt with by non-professionals if you choose the right people. Talk to them beforehand and make sure that they understand their responsibilities and are happy to take on the responsibility. It’s much better to find out before creating the Will rather than when you are no longer around and your estate needs administering!
During the Will writing process we will help you find the right executors for your circumstances.
As always get in touch if you need advice.