The executors of a will are usually detailed in the will if one is made and they are therefore responsible for the administration and dealing with the will.
If there is no will or an executor does not wish to act then a close family member can nominate themselves to deal with the will. They will then be referred to as the administrators.
Executors and administrators are generically known as personal representatives.
Besides the main duties of the personal representatives during the probate process; there are a range of other duties that a personal representative must carry out, and this may require the help of a probate solicitor. The duties can be split into three main areas.
- Evaluating the estate and calculating whether inheritance tax needs to be paid
- Filling in the correct inheritance tax forms
- Correcting any inheritance tax values if assets have appreciated or depreciated over time
- Obtaining conformation from HMRC that payment of inheritance tax has been paid
- Obtaining conformation from HMRC that no inheritance tax needs to be paid on the estate
- Paying Capital Gains Tax- which is the tax on the profit of an asset when an asset is sold
- Pay income tax
- Checking that the will is valid
- Applying for the grant of administration to allow the estate to be administered
- Dealing with claims against the estate
- Dealing with beneficiaries and setting up trusts where applicable
- Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries
- Transferring any jointly held assets to the surviving spouse if applicable
- Setting up trusts to protect the rights and interests of beneficiaries under the age of 18
- Contacting the relevant people and institutions named in the will to gather any assets and pay any debts
- Finding missing assets
- Contacting and locating beneficiaries
- Selling or transferring property
- If there is no will then distributing assts under the rules of intestacy
The role of a personal representative can be a fairly burdensome and complicated task, with room for error. Common mistakes often made are:
- Failure to pay the relevant tax especially inheritance tax
- Failure to pay the debts of the deceased
- Failure to administer the estate correctly including giving beneficiaries what they are entitled to
If you have been named as an executor on a will, you should know that you are under no legal obligation to administer the estate. However you should make your refusal clear before you embark on any of the activities that may encourage others to believe that you have taken on the role of an executor. Additionally if there is no will or no one has been named in the will as an executor then you do not need to feel obliged to take the role of an administrator.