Executors

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Executors of Estates

Executors need to be appointed to Act for every Will. Your Executors need to be an individual or individuals aged 18 or above and they need to be people or Professionals that you can trust. Many people prefer to appoint a Professional like an accountant or a solicitor, however, you should be mindful of the costs involved for their Professional fees as and when they Act as Executors of Estates. You need to nominate a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 4 Executors in your Will.

Executors can include your spouse or partner, and you can nominate your Executors to act jointly or on their own. One of the more common appointments for Executors is when you choose an individual to Act as a your first choice of Executor and then appoint another individual or Professional to Act as substitute if your first choice is either unable or unwilling to Act in the event of your death.

Either way, it would be wise to appoint Executors who are likely to outlive you. For example, we would suggest that you do not appoint your parents or older siblings. Also, from a practical viewpoint, it would make sense not to choose a relative or friend to Act for your Estate should they live in Timbuktu or some other far flung place, as they may well need to spend some considerable time in the UK in order to carry out their role as Executors of Estates. If they are Acting jointly with another Executor, considerable time may also be lost should documents need to be posted across the world for an non UK based Executors signature.

Beneficiaries can also be nominated to Act as Executors and it makes sense to appoint as Executors someone that knows you and have an idea of your wishes in advance. If you are married or in a relationship living as a partner and making a Mirror Will it is normal for you to appoint the surviving spouse or partner as first Executor. Your adult children may also act as Executors. If you are in a situation where you do not feel that you have anybody who you feel suitable to act as your Executors, or if you would prefer not to use someone who knows you, then you should instruct a professional.

Duty of Executors Role

Executors are the people who are named in the Will to deal with the estate after death. When a person dies the Executors role broadly twofold.

Primarily, the Executors role is to distribute the deceased's Estate as per the wishes outlined in the Will, but before assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries, the Executors will need to establish exactly what property and money that the Estate is comprised of. The Executors will need to write to any financial institution that holds assets or liabilities on behalf of the deceased and notify them of the death. To prove the death, the Executors will normally need to provide an original or certified Death Certificate. Any debts the deceased may of had, for example unpaid tax, mortgages or loans, need to be accounted for and settled and the Executors will also need to establish if there were any outstanding sums due to the Estate, such as life assurance, deferred or unpaid pensions etc etc.

When all assets have been ascertained and liabilities for the Estate have been paid, the Executors next duty which is normally to obtain a legal document called a Grant of Representation from the Probate Registry.

Grant of Probate

There are 4 stages to applying for a Grant of Probate

Step 1. Obtaining the required forms from your nearest Probate Registry.

  • Form PA1 the Probate Application form plus the PA1A (guidance notes for PA1)PA1 and Both can be downloaded from www.theprobateservice.gov.uk
  • Forms IHT205 and IHT206 (instruction booklet). Downloadable from www.hmrc.gov.uk/cto

Step 2. Complete the relevant forms and tick the checklist on form PA1 to confirm that you have enclosed all the necessary paperwork and accompanying documents along with:

  • An official copy of the death certificate issued by the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages or a Coroner’s certificate.
  • The original Will and any codicils or any document in which the deceased expresses any wishes about the distribution of his or her estate.

Step 3. Return the forms along with a cheque for the fee payable plus all accompanying documents to your local Probate Registry

Step 4. Attend an Interview

  • You will need to attend an interview at the Probate Registry.
  • The purpose of the appointment is to confirm the details that you have given on the forms and to answer any queries you or we may have.
  • You will be asked to sign a form of oath and to swear or affirm before the interviewing officer that the information you have given is true to the best of your knowledge. The interview should last no more than ten to fifteen minutes.

When you have Obtained The Grant of Probate

When the Grant of Probate has been obtained, any inheritance tax due will need to be paid and then you are able to liquidate the deceaseds Estate and distribute it to the beneficiaries as per the Wishes stated in the Will.

Most financial institutions that are holding money in the deceaseds name need to know to whom that money should be paid and the Grant is proof that the person named in it may collect the money.