October 14, 2019

Understanding the Duties of an Executor

An executor or administrator in England and Wales is financially liable if they have a breach of duty and it results in financial loss, even when it was just an honest mistake. Are there any differences between being an executor, an administrator, or a personal representative? The difference is based on whether or not there was a will. If there is a will then a personal representative is called an executor. If no will exists, then the personal representative is called an administrator.

The person that is responsible for handling a deceased person’s assets is known as a personal representative. The deceased person’s estate includes their investments, property and other items of value. Because the personal representative has been charged with legal authority they also are responsible for correctly administering the estate and they can be held accountable if they make any mistakes.

Have You Been Selected to be an Executor of an Estate?

If the will of a deceased person has named you as such then you will be the estate’s executor. When a person dies with no will in place, there are some strict laws called the Rules of Intestacy that will determine who the administrator will be. These rules also govern how the estate will be distributed.

The Responsibilities and Duties of an Executor Explained

If you find yourself appointed as executor in a will it can mean having time-consuming duties that are often complicated to manage and it can take as long as a year to complete the process. Since an executor is legally responsible for the administration of the estate, it is very important things are done right and in accordance with the law and the terms of the will. The executor will be held responsible for the things they do and the things they fail to do with regard to the estate.

Because of the responsibilities imposed on the executor for administrative duties as well as tax and legal requirements, it can be a very daunting task. The responsibilities of the executor will continue throughout the entire duration of the process and can even be extended into managing an ongoing Trust.

Duties of an Executor

1. Legal Responsibilities

This will usually require going to court and applying to get a Grant of Representation which confirms you have the authority to administer the estate. When it is done in the will it is called the Grant of Probate. When there is no will in place then it’s called Letters of Administration. You’ll also have the responsibility of managing any legitimate claims against the Estate.

2. Tax Responsibilities

You will have to have the IHT return prepared and arrange to pay any inheritance tax the estate owes. It will also be necessary to complete capital gains and income tax returns and pay any amount that is outstanding.

3. Responsibilities For Administering the Estate

You need to handle the correspondence and notifications of parties involved in cashing or transferring the deceased assets and using those funds to pay debts or liabilities owed by the estate. You’ll also need to search for missing assets and appropriately distributing estate accounts to any relevant parties. You will also be responsible for distributing any remaining assets and money to the beneficiaries.

If you find that you have been chosen for this responsibility and it feels overwhelming to you then you’ll be glad to know that it might be possible for us to take over the responsibilities of executor for you. We have highly trained Probate Specialists that work together with our Probate Solicitors and attorneys to undertake the probate process, and we have an advisory team that can offer some free initial advice and give you some help understanding your executor duties and responsibilities.

Responsibilities of a Personal Representative Explained

Any laws that result from a breach of duty, even when it was an honest mistake, can make the personal representative financially liable for any losses incurred. This can be from liabilities or debts that were not appropriately paid. It can come from a failure to pay capital gains, income tax, or inheritance tax. This breach can be caused by a failure to appropriately distribute funds to those who have a legitimate claim against the estate. It can also be caused by a failure to appropriately distribute funds to beneficiaries even if it’s someone that you didn’t know about.

If there are any family members or dependents that are disappointed by the handling of the executor they can file a claim against them up to six months after the Grant of Representation has been issued. Creditors have as much as 12 years after a person dies to file claims against the executor for failure to pay a debt. For this reason, you may want to get appropriate help with this responsibility.