I'm an executor of a Will - What do I do?
Being appointed as an executor of a Will can be a daunting task, particularly when dealing with the loss of a loved one. As an executor, you have a legal responsibility to ensure the wishes of the deceased are carried out in accordance with the law. In this blog, we will outline the key steps and considerations for an executor in the UK.
Immediate Steps After Death
The first step is to register the death with the relevant authorities. You should also ensure that any funeral arrangements are made and paid for. It is important to locate the original Will as soon as possible, as this will provide guidance on how to proceed.
Once the Will has been located, you should read it carefully to understand the wishes of the deceased. If you are named as an executor in the Will, you will need to obtain a grant of probate from the probate registry. This will give you the legal authority to deal with the estate.
The estate is the total value of the deceased’s assets, including property, money, investments, and personal possessions. You will need to gather information on all the assets and liabilities of the estate and calculate its value. This will involve obtaining valuations of any property, shares, or other assets.
Deal with Debts
It is important to identify any outstanding debts owed by the deceased, including mortgages, loans, and credit card debts. These debts will need to be paid from the estate before any distribution to beneficiaries can take place.
Grant of Probate
Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. If the estate is worth more than £10,000, you will need to obtain a grant of probate. This involves completing an application form and submitting it to the probate registry, along with the original Will and other supporting documents.
Once all debts and taxes have been paid, you can distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the Will. This may involve selling property or other assets and transferring funds to beneficiaries.
Keep Record of Accounts
As an executor, you will need to keep detailed records of all transactions relating to the estate. This includes any income generated by the estate, as well as all expenses and distributions. You may need to provide these records to the beneficiaries or to HM Revenue & Customs.
If the Will includes trusts, you will need to ensure that these are set up and administered correctly. This may involve appointing trustees and managing the assets held in trust.
In some cases, the beneficiaries may wish to vary the terms of the Will after the death of the deceased. This can be done through a deed of variation, which must be completed within two years of the death. You should seek legal advice before proceeding with any variation to the will.
If the deceased did not leave a Will, their estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. This can be more complex than dealing with a Will, and you may need to seek legal advice.
In summary, being an executor of a Will can be a complex and time-consuming task. However, by following these key steps and seeking professional advice, when necessary, you can ensure that the wishes of the deceased are carried out in accordance with the law.