Executor of a Will: Duties and Responsibilities

Responsibilities of an Executor

To be named as the executor of a Will is both a privilege and an important responsibility. It means the person making the Will trusted you enough to carry out instructions regarding their estate, so it’s important to be well-organised and do them proud. Here’s what you need to know about the duties of a Will executor.

Step by Step Instructions for an Executor

Being the executor of a Will is a demanding task, so you must make sure you have the time, focus and energy to get everything done properly. If you don’t, you can resign the role by signing a document called a Deed of Renunciation or a Letter of Renunciation. This frees you from any responsibility. Should you decide to proceed, expect to carry out the following tasks.

Check the Will

First and foremost, check that you’re using the latest version of the deceased’s Will and that you’re named as executor. Many people draw up several Wills, so it’s worth contacting their solicitor for advice and carrying out a thorough search of the deceased’s paperwork. Don’t presume you’re the executor, even if you were consulted in advance by the recently deceased as they could have changed their mind. 

Check and Make Funeral Plans

As the executor, it falls on you to organise a funeral in accordance with the deceased’s wishes. From a financial perspective, you’ll be expected to pay. But don’t worry, as many people have some sort of pre-paid funeral policy or insurance plan in place. If they don’t, you can claim funeral costs back from the deceased’s estate. The deceased’s bank might also agree to release enough funds to cover essential payments.

Value the Estate

Valuing an estate isn’t an easy task. You need to know the total value of everything they owned including properties, investments, businesses, jewellery, heirlooms and more. You then need to subtract any outstanding debt from mortgages, credit cards and so on. Estate planners such as Nick Hughes will be able to help with this. Check to see if the deceased sought any professional help before they died, as someone familiar with an estate could make your life a lot easier.

Notify Organisations of the Death

You need to make sure that banks, insurance companies, employers, pension providers and utility suppliers are notified about your loved one’s death. You also need to tell HMRC, the Department for Work and Pensions, and the local council. To help with the estate value, find out how much the deceased owed or was due from these organisations when they died.

Apply for Probate

In order to legally handle the deceased’s estate you’ll need to apply for Probate. This can be done once any outstanding Inheritance Tax has been paid and will allow you to action the commands in the Will. Choosing a Kent accountant for Probate services can help with this process.

Pay off any Outstanding Debts

Debts must be paid before the estate can be distributed. This includes any Income Tax and other tax owed, so tax returns will have to be completed first. Kent tax advisors will be able to point you in the right direction.

Distribute the Estate

Distribute the estate in accordance with the Will and complete all accounts. Make sure the accounts are signed by Will beneficiaries.

Being the executor of a Will is a challenge, but many people feel honoured to have this responsibility. Help is available should you need it, so if you’re struggling don’t continue alone.

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