Being named the executor of an estate places huge responsibility on a person whilst they are grieving a deceased loved one.  The process of obtaining Grant of Probate and then administering the estate itself can be complicated, full of technical jargon and very time consuming.  In this article we look at why you might seek the help of a professional if you find yourself in this difficult situation.

Relieving the Emotional Burden

In most cases as executor you will be a loved one or family member of the deceased.  This can place substantial demands on you at a time when you are not in the right frame of mind to deal with them.  Another important and often unexpected consideration is that when emotions are running high a surprising number of probates end up causing family disagreements.

An impartial professional can make sure that everyone is treated correctly and with the right advice can help avoid difficult arguments or family splits.

Preventing Personal Liability

As executor you have a responsibility to ensure that you are acting on the latest and final Will.  Failure to do so can bring personal liability on you to put things right.  You are also expected to administer the estate efficiently and there can be consequences if you fail to do this.  Disappointed beneficiaries have been known to sue an executor if they believe they have acted incorrectly (which usually means they don’t feel they have received the money they deserve!). 

Professional advisors such as solicitors will follow the correct procedures, are heavily regulated and in the unlikely event something goes wrong will have professional indemnity insurance to protect you.

Dealing with the Administrative Burden and Paperwork

The role of an executor is quite a complex one, with two distinct stages – obtaining the Grant of Probate and Administering the Estate once Probate is obtained.  Some of the tasks involved are simple, some are time consuming and some are quite technical and require specialist knowledge.  A simple estate might take 6-12 months to complete and complex ones often run into years.

Here are some of the tasks involved:

  • Locating and reviewing the Last Will
  • Identifying all beneficiaries
  • Establishing the value of all financial assets and liabilities by contacting all the institutions the deceased had accounts, assets or liabilities with
  • Accurately valuing non-financial assets for sale, transfer or distribution
  • Opening a bank account on behalf of the estate
  • Managing any property – including insuring, paying bills and arranging sale as necessary
  • Completing Inheritance Tax forms
  • Paying inheritance tax before probate is obtained
  • Obtaining a clearance certificate from HMRC to confirm no further IHT is due
  • Paying the creditors of the estate (for example funeral expenses, taxes, loans, mortgages and outstanding debt)
  • Paying interest on unpaid legacies after 12 months of the death
  • Performing bankruptcy searches against beneficiaries before payment is made
  • Placing Trustee Act notice to protect from liability against any claims from creditors/beneficiaries
  • Delaying distribution for 6 months from the date of the Grant of Probate in case there are claims against the estate from family members
  • Preparing and agreeing estate accounts
  • Making interim and final distributions of assets to beneficiaries

Taking all this into account, it is quite understandable why you might decide that you don’t have the time, enthusiasm or expertise to attempt this yourself.

Contact Backhouse Solicitors for professional advice on how to Administer an Estate

At Backhouse Solicitors we have a team dedicated to helping executors with Wills, Probate and Estate Administration.  Whether you need a little advice, some help with the process or would simply prefer us to take everything off your hands then we are here to help. 

Contact us to today to speak to one of our friendly advisors and arrange your no obligation free initial consultation.

Call: 01245 893400
Visit: 17 Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1JU
Or send us a message through the Contact Us page on this website