Who sorts out an estate?
After a death a family is likely to be under stress and very often in shock. For many people this is not the best time to take on the extra worries and responsibilities of dealing with the deceased’s finances. However other people will easily manage all the work that is involved.
Whoever has died someone usually needs to take on the legal responsibility of sorting out the deceased persons affairs. If they left a Will the executors will be responsible. If there is no valid will an administrator needs to be appointed.
Have a look at the notes below showing what is involved with these roles. The task may seem daunting at first but we can help as much or as little as necessary. Have a look at the section dealing with our services.
Hopefully the deceased told you they were appointing you as their executor in their will and also told you where to find it. If you can’t find the will a good starting point it to get in touch with Certainty, the central will register and use their Will Search.
In due course you have to submit the original will to the Probate Registry to get a “grant of probate”. It is this grant of probate that gives you the legal authority as executor to act on behalf of the deceased.
How much work there will be very much depends on the size of the individuals estate and how complex it is. One bank account with £1,000,000.00 is easier to deal with than £100,000. spread out over 50 different types of investment. In simple terms the role of executor includes the following.
- assessment of all debts and liabilities.
- valuation of all assets e.g. investments, trusts, bank accounts, land and property.
- submission of an account to HM Revenue and Customs showing the assets and liabilities for assessment of inheritance tax on the estate.
- arranging payment of any tax due before a grant of probate.
- applying to the Probate Registry for the grant of probate.
- discussing the beneficiaries wishes and taking any necessary professional financial advice.
- collecting and realising the assets e.g. shares, insurance money, bank accounts, property.
- preserving property e.g. keeping up the house insurance and carrying out emergency repairs.
- payment of the deceased’s debts.
- opening an executors account to receive assets, pay debts and keep accounting records.
- distribute the net estate to the beneficiaries.
You may find that there is also on-going work including acting as a trustee. This often occurs if someone is left property only for their lifetime or there are children who are too young to inherit yet.
As an executor you have legal responsibilities and therefore must be very cautious and careful about how you act. However unless an you are acting in a professional capacity (e.g. as a solicitor) you don’t get paid for your work.
Where there is no will, a will can’t be found or it is invalid, then an administrator deals with the estate. The administrator is usually the next of kin e.g. spouse or child. The duties of the administrator are very similar to those of an Executor . Where there is no will the rules on intestacy will dictate who benefits from the deceased’s assets. Take a look at our notes about the Intestacy Rules.
You may well manage the role of executor without professional advice. However anyone can find some aspect of the role unclear, daunting or just excessively time consuming. This is where we can help.
We are always happy to explain on the phone what we can do to help and don’t charge for explaining this.
At its simplest we just answer the odd telephone question or check over the application for the grant. We often do this when an estate is just a few thousand pounds and there are few beneficiaries.
Getting the grant
In some cases executors ask us to get the grant of probate. Once that has been done they feel able to complete the rest of the work of collecting the money, paying the debts and distributing the net esatate. We provide this level of service most often when the estate is fairly simple and involves no trusts.
At the other end of the scale we can deal with the whole administration process. We do this regularly even in fairly simple estates. However some of the estates I deal with are very complicated with substantial financial affairs to wind up and trusts to arrange and administer.
Our costs depend on how much work there is to do. We don’t charge on the basis of the value of the estate. Therefore a large estate where the money is all in one account will be less expensive to sort out than a smaller estate with lots of different accounts, policies, property and other assets. I am always happy to meet you and talk about what a particular situation involves and the likely costs. There is no cost or obligation in meeting me and talking through what you might need.
You’ve started but –
Sometime an executor or adminstrator starts out to deal with everything and then finds it difficult to continue. The job can be very time consuming or turn out to be more complicated than it looks at first. If this happens we can complete the outstanding work.
We suit our services to your needs and I am always happy to talk to you about what your needs might be.
Our costs depend on what service you want and the complexity of the estate so we have prepared guidance to our Probate Costs.
Kevin Moon– Private Client Solicitor – Partner