Executor Cautions

  • Funeral: Generally direct family members arrange the funeral. However, if there is no family or they are unwilling to do this the executor can be required to make the arrangements. Furthermore, if you are unable to access bank accounts, costs such as paying for the funeral may be at your expense until reimbursement from the estate can occur.
  • Confirmation of Assets and Debts: Confirmation of assets and debts of the estate is done by writing to financial institutions, service providers, Government departments, relevant companies, searching records (especially Land and Property Information) and may also require preparation of an inventory of household goods and personal effects.
  • Protecting the assets of the estate: As executor it is your responsibility to protect the assets of the estate. This may involve storing valuables such as jewellery, ornaments or paintings or investing surplus funds after debts have been paid. As an executor you can be held personally liable for any damage to property which has not been secured or insured.
  • Notification of Government Agencies: As executor you should notify government agencies of the death to ensure that liabilities do not continue and that income such as pensions are stopped.
  • Realisation of Assets: Should you need to sell assets before you can distribute the estate you will need to ensure that you obtain a fair price for these assets. Should you not do this the beneficiaries have a legal right to sue you personally to recover the shortfall.
  • Accounting: Every person who is administering an estate has a duty to account to the beneficiaries but whether formal accounts are required comes within the categories set out in section 85 of the Probate and Administration Act 1898.Beneficiaries are entitled to full disclosure of administration activities and if dissatisfied with your performance as executor may approach the court to have you removed.
  • Tax Liabilities: If you have distributed all the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries and the estate still owes money to the tax office, as executor, you are personally liable to make the payment.
  • Time to Administer an Estate: Executors must ensure that the administration of an estate is commenced and completed within a reasonable time. If it can be demonstrated you caused any undue delays resulting in a financial loss then you could be personally liable for this loss.
  • Estate Distributions: As an executor you must exercise caution when determining who is entitled to receive money or assets under the terms of the Will. Distributions for which you may be liable can occur through a mistaken interpretation of the Will or failure to identify all the beneficiaries.
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