All You Need to Know About Being an Executor of a Will

By  //  August 12, 2022

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When a dear friend or someone you care about passes away, you grieve beside their family; the burden of loss is immense. If the deceased person held you in trust, you also have to bear the responsibility of dealing with his Will and Estate. 

As an executor of a Will, you may find it impossible to overcome the grief and take charge of things. You might have no clue of the responsibilities you will be shouldering. You may not know where to begin!

If you’ve come to our page looking for some guidance and support, you’ve already made the right start. Read on to learn all about being an executor of a Will.

Who is an Executor of a Will?

An executor is a person named in the Last Will & Testament who has the legal responsibility of carrying out the instructions of a deceased person. The executor is responsible for dealing with the person’s wishes regarding their property and possessions. All other instructions and wishes listed in the Will should be taken care of by the executor.

An executor can be a family member or a friend, or a professional advisor like a solicitor. Usually, the maker of the Will appoints more than one executor. This is done to take care of the eventuality that one of the executors dies before their time to execute the Will.

Responsibilities of an Executor

The process of executing a Will entails several aspects. You need to be emotionally and practically prepared to discharge these duties.

Registering the Death

If there’s no one available to register the death, the responsibility for this task lies with the executor of the Will. Make sure you obtain multiple copies of the death certificate to be presented at the bank and other financial institutions.

Arranging Copies of the Will

As the executor of the Will, you should figure out where the deceased person left their most recent Will. You will be allowed to access the Will, only after presenting the death certificate and your ID proof. Once you have the original Will, make several copies for sharing with beneficiaries and other executors (if any).

Preparing for the Funeral

Go through the Will carefully to fulfil the deceased’s wishes regarding the funeral. The funeral expenses can be paid with the funds from the deceased’s Estate.

Take Care of Personal Property and Mails

Someone will have to take charge of the deceased’s possessions, posts, and mails. If family members are not presently available to immediately take up the responsibility, it will have to be carried out by the executor.

Dealing With the Deceased’s Estate

It is the executor’s responsibility to get the Estate of the deceased valued. You will have to meticulously prepare a list of everything the person owned: property, jewellery, other possessions, cash, etc. Even if the Will lists out the constituents of the Estate, you should double-check to ensure that nothing is left out.

Handling the Deceased’s Finances

You will have to inform the deceased’s bank, credit card companies, loan companies, insurance companies, and building societies about the death. Any other organisation where the deceased held any interest or assets will have to be informed. Keep several copies of the death certificate to be submitted to institutions paying salary, pension or other benefits to the deceased.

Managing the Debts

You should check for any outstanding invoices or debts the deceased was indebted to pay. This can be a tedious task as you will have to go through a lot of paperwork, bills, invoices, etc. You may also have to approach government offices to figure out what the deceased owed.

If it appears that the debts outweigh the Estate, you will have to seek professional legal advice and declare insolvency.

Dealing With Other Assets

Some of the deceased’s assets might be jointly held. Examples can be bank savings accounts, fixed deposits, property, etc. Usually, money in bank accounts and property that is held jointly, gets transferred to the surviving owner. However, the value of the deceased’s share in the jointly held property will become a part of the Estate.

You should also check with the pension provider if the deceased person is entitled to death benefits under a pension scheme. Contact the deceased’s life insurance company to know if a beneficiary is supposed to receive money directly under the insurance scheme.

The deceased may be entitled to receive money from debtors. You should collect such amounts and include them in the Estate for distribution.

Paying Inheritance Tax

The law mandates that the Estate pay inheritance tax under certain circumstances if the Estate values above £325,000. The threshold varies if the Estate includes a house property inherited by children. Take advice from a professional regarding Inheritance Tax applicable to the Estate of the deceased.

Applying for Probate 

Unless the executor receives the grant of probate, they are not legally allowed to deal with the deceased’s Estate. You will be required to pay a fee while applying for probate. If you’re unsure about its legal proceedings, you can always rely on a probate lawyer. You can apply for probate online or at the local Probate Registry.

Distribution of the Estate

Once the probate is granted, you can open a bank account for the Estate. You can commence accounting for the share of all the beneficiaries as instructed under the Will. Make adjustments to pay off any debts and outstanding bills. Dealing with the Estate of the deceased may involve counterclaims and objections, so you need to be prepared to take professional help when needed.

Other Considerations for the Executor

The above guide would have given you a fair idea of the responsibilities you will have to carry out as an executor. Here are a few other points of consideration you should be aware of:

■ The maker of the Will can appoint up to four executors in their Will. Usually, there is the main executor and the others are substitutes. 

■ An executor can also witness a Will, provided they are not a beneficiary in the Will.

■ You can change your mind about being an executor too. While the maker of the Will is still living, you can simply discuss and communicate your wish. If the person has passed away and you haven’t yet begun with the distribution of the Estate, you should seek advice from the Probate Registry or a local solicitor.

■ Once you’ve begun dealing with the Estate, you can’t go back from your duties unless there is a medical emergency or other valid reason.

Now that you know all about the roles and responsibilities of an executor of a Will, we’re certain that you’ll be able to approach the matter confidently.