Being an Executor

When someone dies it is necessary to find out who has authority to deal with their affairs and if the person has made a Will. They may have appointed you to act as their executor to sort out their affairs following their death.

You will be their choice of legal representative once they have died and this often comes at a difficult time of bereavement. You do not have to act as an executor if you decide not to, but in making a decision whether or not to act, you should consider the time and work which may be involved and how long the process may take before you take up the role.

As an executor you will need to carry out the deceased person’s wishes as far as possible and you will be responsible for securing their financial affairs, getting valuations of assets, paying any tax due and sorting out their house and belongings as well as their investments.

If you do decide to act there are a number of steps to be taken to fulfil the duties of an executorship such as:

  • Registering the death;
  • Arranging the funeral;
  • Securing the house and contents;
  • Valuing the estate assets;
  • Gathering details of the debts and notifying the various parties;
  • Completing an Inland Revenue Account and paying any inheritance tax;
  • Sorting out the income tax affairs with HMRC;
  • Applying for a Grant of Probate;
  • Gathering in the assets, paying the debts and contacting the beneficiaries;
  • Preparing accounts and calculating what is due to the beneficiaries;
  • Sorting out the sale of the house and other property;
  • Distributing the estate according to the wishes in the Will.

How we can help

We can help you assess if you want to take on the role, the immediate steps you can take and other aspects where you may want professional help right up to the point the estate is concluded. The administration of an estate can be a time-consuming process at a difficult time. We have the expertise and sensitivity to work with you when you need support and to guide you through the process from start to finish. Please take a look at our handy Probate Checklist for you to refer to.

For more information on where to start and what needs to be done you can download our The Estate Administration Process guide.

Some do’s and don’ts when acting as an executor

  • Do find the Will and any codicils as quickly as possible and check if there are any funeral wishes referred to;
  • Do store the Will and codicil in a safe place and don’t pin or attach them to anything;
  • Do keep financial documents such as Deeds, Passbooks, Share Certificate and Policy Documents in a safe place and carry out a thorough search of the deceased’s papers to check everyone has been notified;
  • Do keep the deceased’s papers in order and don’t mix them up with your own;
  • Do put together a list of relatives or beneficiaries named in the Will with names and addresses who may need to be notified;
  • Do gather together the deceased’s documents such as their Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates and those of any former husband, wife or civil partner or children as well as any divorce papers;
  • Do identify and secure any specific items the deceased person wanted to give to a particular beneficiary and consider getting it valued before giving it away;
  • Don’t throw out the deceased’s financial papers until the estate is completed in case these are needed to deal with tax queries or other claims;
  • Do keep receipts of any items of expenditure you have incurred if you need to claim this from the estate;
  • Do check all the debts have been paid before you distribute the estate otherwise you may find you are personally liable for these.

If you would like to find out more about acting as an executor, please speak to a member of our team.

To help you make sure that you have all the papers and information needed when beginning the estate administration process, please download our List of papers required following a death questionnaire