What are my responsibilities as an executor?

Last Will and testament document with penAn executor is a person named in a Will who is responsible for the administration and distribution of the estate of a deceased person. Being an executor can involve a lot of work, often requiring you to deal with various financial issues. Romain Coleman are here to help you navigate these challenges.

An executor is a person named in a Will who is responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased. Being an executor can be a lot of responsibility and many people will name a family member or close friend as their executor in their Will. If you have been chosen as an executor, it is probably because the deceased trusted you to handle their estate and wishes after their death. There may be more than one executor; this means you can share the responsibilities between you.

Sometimes being an executor will require you to consider hiring a solicitor. This can be when the estate is bankrupt, includes foreign property or company shares, company partnership interests, and/or intellectual property rights. At Romain Coleman we understand that the responsibilities of being an executor come at an already emotional time. With this in mind, our service is tailored to your unique situation, minimising your involvement and guiding you through the complex legal areas. We are here to help you.

Responsibilities of an executor

Your responsibility as an executor is to distribute the estate of a deceased person in accordance with their Will. You will probably have known the person who has died and therefore acting as their executor may be emotional. You do, however, have legal duties and responsibilities regarding the administration, distribution and payment of taxes from the Will made by the person who has died.

If you have been named executor you’ll have a number of responsibilities, such as:

  • securing the property owned by person who has died
  • taking an inventory of all possessions, assets and debts and notifying relevant organisations to gather these assets together
  • paying off any debts or outstanding taxes that have been incurred by the deceased. You will need to use the estate’s funds to pay these off
  • distributing the estate to people named as beneficiaries in the Will, including any legacies left to charities
  • organising the funeral – though this is only an executor’s responsibility if there is no one else to organise it or if the family have asked you to

If you and perhaps others have been chosen as an executor, it is acceptable for one of you to take on the task on behalf of all other executors. Any agreements between you and the other executors should be made in writing, and official paperwork will need to be signed by all executors.

Grant of Probate

A Grant of Probate is a legal document that gives an executor the legal authority to administer the estate of someone who has died. A Grant of Probate, however, is not always required, and normally only needed if the estate is worth over the threshold £15,000 and/or there is property and land included. Please note that some institutions and banks may impose a higher or lower figure.

It is essential that the executor check whether or not a Grant is required, as often completion of any responsibilities of the executor can only really begin once it has been obtained. This is because distribution of the estate, paying outstanding debts, taxes or Inheritance Tax can be wrapped up in any financial institutions or organisations the deceased may have been involved in.

Each institution will have different rules regarding executors and sometimes will allow you to handle the finances of the deceased without a Grant. It is also worth noting that the probate process can differ in different parts of the UK, so it is wise to check within the legal jurisdiction of the deceased for any advice.

Inheritance tax

Inheritance Tax is a tax on an estate of someone who has died. There may be no Inheritance Tax if the value of the estate is below a threshold of £325,000 or if everything is left to a spouse, civil partner, charity or community amateur sports club.

Once you have an idea of the value of the estate, you will be responsible for completing an Inheritance Tax return and paying any Inheritance Tax that is due. You will also complete any income and capital gains tax returns, along with paying any outstanding tax owed in these areas.

It is worth noting that if any charitable donations on behalf of the deceased amount to more than 10 per cent ‘net value’ of the estate, this will result in a reduced rate for Inheritance Tax – normally 36% on some assets. You cannot distribute any of the estate until all debts have been settled and Inheritance Tax is paid on the estate.

You must pay Inheritance Tax by the end of the sixth month after the person died.

Substitute executors

If you refuse to take on your responsibilities as an executor, a substitute executor named in the Will can take your place. If no other executor is named, the beneficiaries of the estate can apply to administer the estate.

Romain Coleman for executors

Being an executor is a challenging job, especially if you feel emotional after the passing of the deceased. At Romain Coleman, we help our clients navigate the responsibilities of being an executor, providing expertise in areas such as Inheritance Tax, probate processes and what to do when the deceased resided outside the UK.

If you need assistance with obtaining probate, we can help. Our probate services are designed with you in mind and exceedingly efficient. We aim to make the process as stress-free and easy as possible.

If you would like to talk to someone for any further advice on your duties as an executor, please contact us on 0208 520 4555. We offer an initial call to explain how we can help you, the likely timeframes and costs incurred. Alternatively, email us on law@romcolelaw.co.uk or complete an Online Enquiry.

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