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I've been appointed as an Executor, what do I need to do?

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A significant number of my clients who have been appointed as an Executor of an estate have never taken on the role previously and the prospect of acting as an Executor can appear quite daunting.

The first task for an Executor is to ascertain the assets and liabilities of the estate of the deceased. They will therefore be required to make enquiries with both asset and liability holders as well as obtaining valuations for property, land, and personal chattels. Once such enquiries have been made it will be clear to the Executor whether a Grant of Probate shall be required in order to deal with the administration of the estate. 

This then brings me onto the next question which Executors often ask me, what is a Grant of Probate and why do I need one? In brief, a Grant of Probate is a document obtained by the Executors from the Probate Registry which establishes that they are entitled to deal with the estate. It will enable them to deal with certain aspects of administering the estate such as closing bank accounts and selling or transferring property. Although a Grant of Probate is not required to deal with the administration of all estates, it is often the case that one shall be required.

Once the assets and liabilities of the estate have been ascertained, the Executors will be required to submit an Inheritance Tax return which shall confirm whether there is any Inheritance Tax due from the estate. The Executors will need to ensure that any reliefs have been applied and that the right amount of Inheritance Tax is paid. The Executors shall also need to take into consideration any lifetime gifts which the deceased made in the 7 years prior to their death as well as any trusts which they may have benefitted from.

Following the completion of the Inheritance Tax return the Executor will need to sign and swear an Oath. The Oath essentially sets out information of the deceased and how the Executor has the right to deal with the administration of the estate. Once signed and sworn, the Oath is submitted to the Probate Registry and usually within a couple of weeks the Grant of Probate is issued.

Once you have the Grant of Probate you are then able to proceed with collecting in the assets of the estate. You will be able to arrange for bank accounts to be closed and for property to be sold or transferred.

At the stage that all of the assets have been collected in and all of the liabilities have been paid, the Executors will then be in a position to distribute the estate in accordance with the Will. An Executor is required to produce a set of Estate Accounts which should be made available to beneficiaries and creditors of the estate, if requested.

The final matter for an Executor to deal with during the administration of the estate is the distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries. An Executor is not bound to distribute an estate before the expiration of one year from the date of death, which is known as the “Executor’s Year”. However, if all of the assets have been collected in and all liabilities settled then there is no reason to delay distribution and the beneficiaries should be paid at that point.

If you have been appointed as an Executor and you require any assistance in dealing with the administration of an estate please contact a member of our Private Client department at any of our Chattertons offices.