Your role as executor

Almost anyone over the age of 18 can be a personal representative and although many people have heard this term before, unless you have acted previously in this capacity, you may not be aware of the full extent of the duties and responsibilities which come with the role.

So what is a personal representative?

A personal representative is the person charged with dealing with the administration of someone’s estate. If this nomination is by a will, they are known as an executor. If there is no will, then statute decides who should act, and they are known as an administrator. The roles are very similar – essentially making sure all assets are known, all liabilities and expenses paid, and any remaining funds distributed to the correct beneficiaries.

The duties of a personal representative can be onerous, and you may retain personal liability long after the administration process has ended.

Do I have to act as executive?

Everyone is free to choose whether or not they wish to take on the role of a personal representative. However, once you have taken on the role, if you later change your mind, you would need the approval of the court to step down.

What sort of things will I have to do as executor?

This can vary depending on the type of estate. However, generally your duties can include:

  • Establishing the value of assets and liabilities
  • Completing paperwork for the Inland Revenue to verify your findings
  • Applying to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration giving you authority to collect funds
  • Paying creditors
  • Distributing money to beneficiaries
  • Finalising tax matters

Do I have to do this on my own?

No. You are entitled to take professional advice if you need it. For example, from a solicitor, an accountant or valuers. If other people are named as a personal representative jointly with you, you will share the duties and responsibilities, but again are free to take professional advice if needed.

Did you know?

If the Inland Revenue feels you have not made full enquiries, and further gifts come to light, you may be personally liable.

Birkett Long can help you through this

Our probate team takes full responsibility for getting Grant of Probate and dealing with the legal, tax property and estate administration affairs for you. Call us on one of the following numbers:

Colchester: 01206 217300

Chelmsford: 0124 453800

Basildon: 01268 244144