A person who makes a Will is known as the Testator. As part of the process of making a Will, they would have chosen one or more Executors to act as Personal Representatives for their estate In the event of their death.
Executors are required to carry out certain duties in order to legally fulfil their obligations.
Depending on the size of the estate and any individual Wishes and circumstances there will be a number of duties that an Executor is required to carry out.
Initial Duties of an Executor
1. Register the Testators death and obtain copies (not photocopy’s) of the death certificate. It is advisable to obtain several copies of the death certificate, as many organisations will need to see an original Death Certificate before releasing any monies.
You can obtain copies from the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages and these are regarded as originals as opposed to a photocopy of the certificate.
2. Arrange the funeral. Check to see whether the deceased had arranged a prepaid funeral plan in their lifetime. If one does not exist the cost of the funeral will usually be the first expense (First Charge) paid for by the deceased’s estate.
3. To apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, via the nearest Probate Registry you will need to carry out the following tasks.
4. Arrange to open a Personal Representative’s bank account. This will be used for the receipt of money due to the Estate and any loan arranged to pay an Inheritance Tax bill and/or probate fees.
5. Inform all relevant persons and organisations. For example, Banks, Building societies, Life assurance companies, Employers, Pension Providers, Local authorities, HMRC and benefits agencies.
6. Arrange for a valuation of the Estate and create a detailed list of all the deceased assets. The list should include any property, personal effects, investments in savings plans, equities, life policies, building societies etc.
7. Draw up a full list of all of the deceased debts that must be paid from the proceeds of the Estate. These could include mortgages, income and capital gains taxes, bills, credit cards, loans and overdrafts.
8. Next, complete the forms required by the Inland Revenue Capital Taxes Office so that it can be established whether any Inheritance Tax is due.
9. Complete the probate forms and send or take them to the Probate Office along with the original Will, the death certificate and the Inland Revenue account.
Further Duties of an Executor
As long as the case is considered to be fairly straightforward, an appointment will be made for the Executor / Personal Representative to swear the papers within about 5 to 6 weeks of receipt the forms at the Probate Office.
If Inheritance Tax is due, the Executor’s account of the Estate is passed to the Inland Revenue and the Grant of Probate cannot be issued until the tax is paid.
Sometimes part of the Estate has to be sold in order to pay the Inheritance Tax if this is the case banks can sometimes arrange loan facilities to pay the tax straight away.
Copies of the Grant of Probate should be sent to everyone who owes money to the Estate. The Executors now have a legal authority to pursue any debts owing to the Estate.
Once the Grant of Probate is received, the Estate can be divided according to the terms of the Will. The Executor must prepare and sign accounts showing who has received what from the distribution.
The Executor must be able to demonstrate they have acted in accordance with the terms of the Will in case there is any dissent from the family of the deceased.
All documents including the Grant of Probate and the accounts must be stored safely for a period of 12 years.