Probate – and the role of the executor
15 December 2013
When someone dies, the executor’s job is to deal with the administration of that person’s estate, including ensuring that the terms of the will are carried out. The main duties of an executor are:
- to register the person’s death;
- to safeguard the assets of the estate;
- to collect information on all the assets and liabilities;
- to obtain a valuation of any property and the contents;
- to apply for a grant of probate in order to deal with these assets;
- to cash in or transfer the assets, including any property;
- to pay any debts of the estate, including tax;
- to divide the estate amongst the beneficiaries according to the will; and
- to provide detailed accounts of the estate.
An executor’s job can last from a few months to a number of years depending on the complexity of the estate. However, except with the simplest of estates, the process can be complex and there are many potential pitfalls and problems which can arise.
Common complications arise from complex trusts in the will, improperly drafted or executed wills, challenges to the validity of the will, concerns about the mental capacity of the person who made the will or disputes from dependents feeling unfairly left out.
The recession has seen a growth in disputes regarding wills. In some situations disputes can even arise between executors, or an executor may act unreasonably.
Being an executor is an onerous and unpaid task, but you can delegate all the tasks to a solicitor. Any legal fees would be a legitimate expense of the estate.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.