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What is an Executor?

You have been named in someone's Will as being the person who will carry out the terms of that Will when the time comes, i.e. named as executor. You may be appointed on your own, or with someone else – perhaps another family member, or a professional such as a solicitor or accountant.

What do I need to do?

In broad terms, when that person dies you will need to find out accurate information about what they both owned and owed at the date of their death (this is called their “estate”). You may need to compile this information into a proper record and present this to the Probate Registry and HM Revenue and Customs. If the estate includes:-

a) any single asset worth over £5,000; or

b) any company shares; or

c) a property which will not automatically pass to a joint owner

then you will need to apply for a grant of probate. We suggest you speak to a solicitor about this nearer the time.

What happens when probate has been granted?

Once the grant has been issued, you must contact all the companies and organisations that the deceased had dealings with again, providing them with an official copy of the grant. At this point, bank accounts can be closed, investments cashed in and bills, funeral expenses and debts can be paid.

When you have collected in all the assets and paid all the liabilities, you can pay any legacies specified in the Will (for example, “I give £100 to each of my grandchildren”).

Do I need to keep accounts?

Before you can pay the rest of the estate (called the “residue”) out to the beneficiaries, you must compile proper accounts, showing the figures at the date of death and all the payments and receipts since then. When these accounts have been approved, all the funds can be paid out and property can be transferred to the people entitled under the Will.

How long will it take?

It is almost impossible to predict at the start of dealing with an estate how long it is going to take. Traditionally, people talk about the “executor’s year” as usually everything will be wound up within 12 months, although often it will take much less time than this. For estates where there is no inheritance tax to pay, we would suggest that 6 months would be the average timescale. For larger, more complicated estates it could be longer than this – in some extreme cases (usually involving complicated trusts or very valuable estates), it can take several years.

You might typically be ready to apply for the grant of probate (or letters of administration) after 6-8 weeks of starting to deal with the estate. When they receive your application for the grant, the Probate Registry usually send it out within 2 weeks.

If there is a house to be sold or a trust to be set up then the final stage of the administration of the estate could take several weeks or even months before all the funds can be distributed. Finalising the estate could also be held up if there are any disputes about the Will or any claims by people who think they should have inherited more than they did. Such disputes may have to go to court to be resolved. As an executor, you should remain neutral between the different parties and if you yourself are thinking about making a claim then you should step down as an executor.

Please note that this guide is intended as general information only, for private use by our clients. It is not a statement of the law and should not be relied on as advice in any particular case.

It is never easy thinking about practicalities when you are emotionally upset. Let us deal with the whole process instead. We can apply for probate, encash the assets, pay any outstanding bills, deal with the funeral directors, the Inland Revenue and distribute the estate to the beneficiaries. Our expertise and experience means we can help you when you need it most and give you peace of mind. Contact Nadia Faki now for free initial advice on 01858 445480.