Acting as an Executor or thinking of appointing one?

Being asked to act as an Executor by a friend or member of the family can be flattering, as it shows they trust you to handle their financial affairs. But remember that by accepting you will have to take on a lot of responsibility. Generally the procedures of being an Executor are not complicated – provided you are good at paperwork – but can be time-consuming. If you are the sort of person who hates forms or dislikes partaking in dealings with officials, then maybe the job is not for you and you should gracefully decline.

Executors are named in a Will and are not precluded from also being a beneficiary.

Married couples can appoint each other as their Executor, which can work if the Wills are not complicated and most assets are jointly owned in any event. The problem with appointing your Spouse, Siblings or a close friend is that they are often the same generation as you so could be infirm or even dead by the time their services are needed. So perhaps you would be better off appointing someone from a younger generation or a professional, who will always be there.

The key duty of an Executor is to administer the Will in accordance with its terms. In particular, this involves the distribution of assets that belong to the estate to the beneficiaries. See my companion blog regarding what to do when someone dies.

The Executor’s duties include:

  • Listing all the assets – house, car, bank accounts, life insurance, investments, personal possessions, cash, etc.
  • Listing all debts – funeral costs, mortgages, loans, credit cards, gas, electric, telephone and other household bills, etc.
  • Protecting the assets of the estate, e.g. ensuring a property is adequately insured.
  • Getting in touch with the HM Revenue & Customs and paying any outstanding Income Tax and/or Capital Gains tax.
  • Obtaining a Grant of Representation from the Probate Office if there is property to sell or if the estate is over £15,000.
  • Dealing with any Inheritance Tax formalities if the estate is over the Nil Rate Band and not passing to an exempt beneficiary.
  • Distributing the money/transferring assets according to the Will or setting-up any Trusts created by the Will.

If the estate is small, i.e. less than £15,000 the Executor normally only has to produce copies of the death certificate and Will to release funds from the bank or building society. But sometimes they will be asked to produce a copy of the Grant of Representation. If any property or accounts are held in joint names, no grant is required, as the assets become the property of the surviving holder.

If you are the one wanting to select Executors, if you don’t want to burden friends or family with these duties, or you think there may be family disputes to deal with at a later date, you should consider appointing a professional Executor. This will increase the administration expenses, but may well be money well-spent in the long run.

What next?

I have been involved in the administration of estates since 1971 and have been an Executor on many, many occasions, so I can help, particularly in the following areas:

  • If you need help selecting the right Executor.
  • If you are acting as an Executor and you need some help or guidance on the discharge of your duties, particularly applying for Probate.

Speak to me today or just complete the form below.

If you are wanting to write a Will for the first time, or update an existing Will, order my eBook, “Will Writing: The dos and don’ts” and benefit from a discount on an already highly competitive price.

    - Wills, Trusts and Lasting Powers of Attorney

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    About Clive Barwell

    Clive Barwell is one of the most experienced and qualified financial planners working in the later life market today, he specialises in advice and guidance for the over 55s. To ask Clive a question, please email him at Alternatively, you can follow Clive on Twitter, connect with Clive on LinkedIn or see Clive's profile on Google+.