Duties and Responsibilities of an Executor of a Will

When someone passes away, a lot of legal and financial matters need to be taken care of. These include settling any outstanding debts, distributing the estate and dealing with the relevant organisations. In case there’s a will, the responsibility for these tasks is assigned to a person named in it. This person is called the executor.

An executor’s role is complicated and comes with huge responsibilities. If an executor in the UK makes errors in administering the estate, they may be held financially liable for those errors, says SCL Wills and Probate, a law firm renowned for its estate planning solicitors.

Below are some of the important duties of an executor.

Tax Duties

The executor will have to find out the estate’s total value and calculate the amount of inheritance tax that is to be paid. Making this calculation can be a complicated affair. You’ll need to consider a number of important factors, such as tax-free thresholds that are transferrable between spouses, exempt beneficiaries and lifetime gifts.

After you have completed this step, the next thing you need to do is fill out the necessary forms and submit them to the HMRC. Filing the income tax returns for the estate and making arrangements for the payment of any outstanding tax will also be your responsibility.

Legal Matters

Applying for the Grant of Probate is your legal duty as an executor. You are legally authorised to deal with utility companies, banks, HM Revenue & Customs, etc., on the estate’s behalf. Before applying for the Grant of Probate, you’ll be required to provide proof that you have cleared the due inheritance tax (if any).

You’ll also need to gather necessary information about the estate. You’ll have to find out about the property, assets and bank accounts of the deceased and debts that they had before their demise. These outstanding debts could be in the form of loans, credit card repayment, mortgages, etc. If you miss any asset or debt at this stage, then the probate process could get complicated later on.

Estate Administration

As the executor, you need to notify certain organisations about the demise. These include the HMRC, the local council, the Department for Work and Pensions and utilities companies. Also, you’ll have to settle the outstanding bills in the person’s account.

Next, you need to locate any missing or unclaimed assets, prepare and distribute the estate’s accounts to relevant parties and finally distribute the remaining estate in accordance with the will to the beneficiaries named in it.

Administering an estate involves a lot of complicated legal, tax and administrative duties and, in many cases, it can take more than a year. The executor, who is usually a person close to the deceased, may find it difficult to cope with this stress during this time of grief. Estate planning and will solicitors in Watford can help you fulfil your responsibility and take some weight off your shoulders.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.