The position of Executor can be an onerous task and carries with it certain personal liabilities. The following information should always be borne in mind when you accept the position as Executor of a person’s estate; as once you have started to deal with the estate you will be deemed to have ‘intermeddled’ and it is not easy to then withdraw as an Executor:
- It will be your personal responsibility to ensure that you check that the Will you are intending to submit for Probate is indeed the last Will made by the deceased prior to their death.
- It is essential that you protect all the assets in the Estate as you have a Duty of Care to protect the estate for the beneficiaries. This includes making sure the Property is insured and secure.
- When applying for a Grant of Representation it is important that the Inland Revenue Tax return you submit is accurate with regards to the value of the assets and liabilities held by the deceased at the date of death. Failure to do so can lead to action being taken against you and the estate by the Revenue. Late payment of Inheritance Tax can lead to penalties being charged against the estate. This could be criticised by the beneficiaries who may expect you to personally meet the payment of such fees.
- It is essential that an Executor checks that a beneficiary is not a bankrupt, as the funds may have to be paid to the insolvency practitioner rather than the beneficiary.
- In all cases the Executor should be aware of the need to consider the following matters as failure to do so would leave them personally liable to meet the claim:
- Trustee Act notices – The notices give any creditor two months to come forward and make a claim against an estate. If they do not come forward within the necessary time it is the beneficiary who would be liable to meet the claim from their share if the estate has been distributed, rather than the executor.
- Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act – There is a six month period from which the Grant of Probate is issued in which any one eligible under this Act can make a claim against the estate. If you distribute the estate within the six month period of the grant of representation being issued, you can be personally liable to pay the claim if the beneficiary refuses to honour the amount from their share. Make sure you are aware of who could make a claim
- You have a duty of care to the beneficiaries to ensure that the estate is administered within a reasonable time, depending on the complexity of the estate. There is a legal term known as the ‘Executors year’. Failure to pay pecuniary legacies within that time can lead to interest having to be paid to the legatees for late payment.
- It will be necessary for you to produce Estate Accounts for each residuary beneficiary to show the assets and liabilities of the estate. This demonstrates that the estate has being distributed in line with the terms of the Will.
Please call Melanie Cotterill at Roper James on 01752 546448 to book your free half an hour consultation for no nonsense practical advice on being an Executor.