If you have been appointed as an executor, the role can seem overwhelming at what may already be a difficult time. This page is designed to answer some of the most common questions we encounter when working with people who have been appointed as an executor for the first time, and to put your mind at ease about the role. If you need advice or support with regards to Wills, executry or Power of Attorney, our empathetic lawyers are just a phone call away.
An executor is appointed to deal with the finances, possessions and final wishes of someone who has passed away. The executor will carry out their duties in accordance with the deceased’s Will (if there is one) and in accordance with the law. The executor is granted legal authority to administer and distribute the deceased’s finances and possessions known as the ‘estate’.
You can be an executor even where you stand to inherit from the Will – if there is one, so long as you are not a witness to the Will. A number of executors may be appointed, and you may need to make decisions alongside other executors. All executors must be over the age of 16.
If a person asks you to be an executor in their Will, you can refuse. Even where you have been named as an executor in the Will, you can refuse to act so long as you make the decision before any of the work involved has begun. Furthermore, if your resignation would leave no executor to administer the state, you must appoint another executor before you resign. We at Scullion LAW can act as an Executor if required. Just ask us – we have the skills, experience and knowledge to assist you.
An executor is responsible for administering the possessions, property and money of the deceased in line with any wishes expressed in their Will, if there is one and in accordance with the law. The executor must pay off any debts or taxes from the person’s “estate”, and then distribute it to the “beneficiaries” (the people who will benefit, or inherit).
The executor’s responsibility lasts until the estate has been fully administered which can take a lot of time and effort. Some estates are very small and straightforward whilst others might be more stressful and complicated, it depends on the individual case and unique family circumstance. Generally, the process you will go through as an executor is as follows;
First you need to make an inventory (a list) of all the money, furniture, savings and any house or other property belonging to the person who died. This is known collectively as his/her “estate”; you then have to pay inheritance tax, if this is due. You can get further information and advice about inheritance tax from Inland Revenue Capital Taxes as it varies over time.
You are then required to obtain confirmation. This is the legal document which gives you as the executor authority to receive payments due to the estate and to make payments due on the estate. The confirmation is your authority to receive payments from the banks, insurance companies and other organisations, institutions or persons who have property or money belonging to the deceased.
The deceased’s property and possessions will then be distributed in accordance with his/her wishes, after confirmation has been obtained, subject to payment of the “legal rights” due to his or her spouse, civil partner and children. The executor should not distribute any of the estate to those entitled to it until a period of six months has passed since the date of the death. This is to allow persons or companies with a claim on the estate to make their claim known.
After that period, the executor may distribute the estate without having regard to any possible claims that he or she has not been told about. If any creditor or beneficiary presses for payment during the six month period a solicitor should be consulted. Please speak to us if at any time you require our help.
Having a valid Will in place really helps everyone. Dying without a Will can make things more complicated, stressful and time consuming because the law then dictates how the estate should be divided. At Scullion LAW we encourage everyone to make a Will – as it guarantees peace of mind for those left behind. If you have not updated your Will in the last 3-4 years, please speak to us and make an appointment to do so.
Here at Scullion LAW, if you require us to help you administer the estate we can offer our Will reading services from the comfort of our spacious boardroom in Hamilton. We also have smaller break out rooms available and tea/ coffee are provided by our caring and attentive team. Please speak to us regarding this today. Sometimes it helps just to know we are here if you need us.
We understand how difficult things can be during these sensitive times so to help in any small way we can, we’ve simplified our guide to “Handling the Death of a Loved One”. Please have a read and know we are here if you need us.
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