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You’ve been named as an executor: What next?

Being named as the executor of a Will is a significant responsibility.  

If you find yourself in this position, you may be asking, “what next?”  

In this blog, our experts outline the roles and responsibilities you’ll need to undertake to effectively manage the estate and see a complete and efficient transition of assets. 

What is an executor? 

An executor is a person named in a Will to manage the estate of the deceased.  

This involves a variety of tasks, from handling the paperwork to distributing assets according to the Will.  

The executor’s role begins after the testator – the person who made the Will – has passed away. 

Initial steps 

The initial stages of executorship can be confusing, and many will still be grieving for the deceased. However, it is important to get the initial steps right: 

  • Locate the Will: The first thing you’ll need to do is locate the original Will. This could be stored with a solicitor, in a secure location at the deceased’s home, or registered with the Probate Registry. 
  • Register the death: Before you can get started with estate administration, the death must be registered with the local registrar’s office. You’ll receive the death certificate, which will be required when you apply for the grant of probate. 
  • Arrange the funeral: Executors are usually responsible for making funeral arrangements. Check the Will to see if any specific instructions for the funeral have been left by the deceased. 
  • Applying for probate: Probate is the legal process that confirms your authority to deal with the deceased person’s estate. To apply for probate, you’ll need to submit an application form along with an inheritance tax form to the Probate Registry. Once granted, the Grant of Probate will allow you to access the deceased’s assets like bank accounts, property, and other financial instruments. 

Roles and responsibilities 

Once these initial steps are completed, there are several further things to consider.  

  • Inventory of assets: One of your primary tasks is to identify and list all the deceased’s assets and liabilities. This can include property, bank accounts, shares, vehicles, and even digital assets like cryptocurrency. 
  • Payment of debts and taxes: The estate’s debts and any inheritance taxes must be paid before assets are distributed. This can involve selling property or liquidating other assets. 
  • Distributing the assets: Once debts and taxes have been settled, you can then distribute the remaining assets according to the Will. This might include transferring property deeds, distributing funds, and allocating personal items to beneficiaries. 
  • Keeping records: Maintaining a detailed account of all actions taken, debts paid, and assets distributed is crucial. These records may be scrutinised by beneficiaries or other involved parties, so accuracy is essential. 
  • Legal and financial liabilities: As an executor, you’re legally obliged to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. Failure to do so could result in you being held personally liable for any financial loss to the estate. 

Acting as an executor can be complex and time-consuming but fulfilling the last wishes of a loved one can also be immensely rewarding.  

If you find yourself overwhelmed with the duties and responsibilities, seeking professional advice from a solicitor experienced in estate management can be invaluable. 

Estate laws can be complicated and subject to change so having a solicitor on your side to help is always a good idea. 

A qualified legal professional can give you advice tailored to your specific circumstances. 

To find out how we could guide you through your role as an executor, please get in touch.  

Mander Hadley

Mander Hadley Solicitors is not only a long established firm, but is vibrant and successful, with a forward thinking approach.