An Executor is the person who is responsible for dealing with the possessions of the deceased. These possessions are collectively known as the Estate. The Executor has the legal authority and responsibility to administer the Estate and is ultimately liable for any mistakes made.
As mentioned above an Executor can be held personally financially liable for any loss resulting from a breach of their duty – even if the mistake is made in good faith.
This will include:
Failure to pay the debts and liabilities of the deceased
Failure to settle the affairs of the deceased relating to: inheritance tax, income tax and capital gains tax
Failure to settle any claim against the estate
Failure to identify and correctly distribute assets to the beneficiaries (including those initially not known about).
Disappointed beneficiaries (people who feel that they should have been left something or else left more in the Will) have up to six months to make a claim after issuing the grant of probate whilst creditors owed money by the deceased, can potentially make a claim against the personal representatives for up to 12 years after the death.
What are Executors responsible for?
Executors are responsible for administering the property and possessions of the deceased in line with their wishes and the law.
The Executors are responsible for everything they do, or fail to do, in relation to the estate. This responsibility lasts for the duration of the administration of the estate and any ongoing trust created.
The precise duties fall under the following three areas:
Applying to and attending at court to apply for grant of probate.
Identifying and dealing with any claims against the estate.
Settling all debts and liabilities
Correctly distributing the remainder of the estate, once all of the liabilities have been paid, in accordance with the Will.
Notification and correspondence with all relevant organisations in order to gather all assets and pay all debts and charges on the estate.
Search for unclaimed or missing assets.
Prepare and distribute estate accounts to interested parties.
Completion and submission of inheritance tax returns and payment of any inheritance tax.
Completion of any necessary income and capital gains tax returns and payment of any outstanding tax.
Being named as an Executor in a Will brings with it complicated and sometimes onerous duties and often takes months to complete. It is important to get it right because the Executor or administrator is ultimately liable for any mistakes made. Often people choose to appoint a loved one, who knows the details of the estate, together with a professional so that the estate can be administered as quickly as possible with minimum stress to those involved.
If you choose to appoint us, or other professionals, the professionals can be named on the grant of representation. This means that they take on the responsibility and potential liability associated with administering the estate of the deceased. This means that in the event of a claim against the estate, it would be the professional and not the individual who would be sued.