Executors – Roles and Duties (and why you may want to appoint a professional)

Register the death at the local Registry Office.

Arrange the funeral. Check to see if there is any pre-paid funeral plan or any instructions in the Will regarding the deceased’s wishes and make the appropriate arrangements.

Inform all relevant organisations e.g. employers, utility companies, credit card companies, banks, council tax offices, pension providers, life assurance companies, DVLA, passport authority.

Arrange a professional valuation of the estate which could include the house and its contents, investments, stocks and shares, life policies and all other personal goods. Draw up a detailed list of assets, including sole and joint assets and the respective values.

Draw up a list of debts that must be paid by the estate. This could include mortgages, loans, credit cards, household bills, taxes, overdrafts, etc.

Open a personal representative’s bank account for money paid into and out of the estate.

Prepare the Inheritance Tax (IHT) return – the grant of probate cannot be issued until any IHT is paid. If part of the estate needs to be sold to pay IHT, banks can arrange loan facilities so that the tax can be paid straight away. You must declare the value of the estate to HMRC within 6 months of death. Note that even where no inheritance tax is payable it is still necessary to submit a return.

Apply for a grant of probate from the nearest probate registry once the paperwork has been collated. Once the Grant is obtained, this will give you legal authority over the estate.

Collect estate money and settle all debts – payment of the deceased’s tax and liabilities is your personal responsibility.

Undertake bankruptcy searches as you cannot distribute to a beneficiary who is bankrupt.

Distribute the estate – Pay all legacies in the Will. Set up any Will trusts. Set up a Deed or Appointment if a trust is to be disbanded. Pay residuary beneficiaries.

Complete income tax returns for each beneficiary and estate income if the estate has accrued any income during the Probate phase.

Compile estate accounts – you will need to keep a full set of accounts showing the estate assets and liabilities, administration income and expenses and how the estate has been distributed. These should prove that you have acted in accordance with the wishes expressed in the Will. This is important in case there is any query from the beneficiaries or the family.



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