An executor is a person who is appointed under a will to submit the will for probate and to deal with the administration of the deceased’s estate. Some estates are straightforward to administer, but often solicitors will be appointed to act on behalf of the executor.
It is an executor’s responsibility to administer a will, carrying out the wishes of the deceased and to obtain a Grant of Probate, if required. A Grant of Probate is a court sealed document which confirms the will and the executor may need this authority to deal with some of the assets in the estate.
Firstly, the executor will need to obtain valuations for the deceased’s assets and consider any debts the deceased may have had. They may also need to consider the likelihood of claims from people not mentioned in the will, which can delay dealing with the administration.
The executor may arrange to sell the deceased’s home or other property. The sale could be started, but not completed, without a Grant of Probate.
If the net estate of the deceased is above the inheritance tax threshold, there may be inheritance tax to pay or reliefs to be claimed. An executor should also consider any gifts made by the deceased during their lifetime. These gifts may also need to be reported to HMRC for inheritance tax purposes.
Where tax is payable, the executor will need to arrange payment from the estate, before applying for a clearance certificate from HMRC, confirming all tax has been paid.
The executor will need to collect assets using the Grant of Probate. There will likely be some forms to sign to arrange account closures or transfers of assets. They should then distribute the personal or specific items, cash legacies and residue of the estate to those entitled under the will.
If there is no will, an administrator will be appointed, which is usually a relative of the deceased. The administrator will need to obtain something known as a Grant of Letters of Administration, before they have authority to act for the estate. Executors and administrators may both be referred to as ‘Personal Representatives’ of the deceased.
Whether you are appointed as an executor under a will or as an administrator when there is no will, the obligations of a Personal Representative are quite extensive.
If you are unsure about your role as an executor, or if you would like support from a legal professional, please do not hesitate to contact our Trusts and Estates team.