Executor Duties Checklist
An executor of a will is responsible for dealing with the estate of the deceased, below we have complied a checklist to help ensure that you cover your key responsibilities.
Registering The Death
This can be done by any close member of the family, or hospital administrator, but can also be done by an executor. It is an executor’s duty to ensure that it has been done to obtain the death certificate and certificate for burial or cremation, but is often left to others if possible, as the executors have a lot to do already. To do this, you may need one or all of the following personal documents of the deceased:
Council Tax bill
Marriage or civil partnership certificate
NHS medical card
Proof of address (e.g. utility bill)
Getting Copies Of The Will
As executor, you are the only people to have access to the will prior to probate being granted. That means that making copies of the will for beneficiaries or interested parties falls as a duty to you, should you feel it appropriate. You are able but not obliged to make copies for those that request it. When probate is granted, any interested party can request a copy via the probate registry and the executors need not be involved.
Arranging The Funeral
It’s the executor's duty to ensure that all of the wishes pertaining to the funeral in the will are carried out. That can be a large undertaking and often it is the case that support from friends and family is needed and tasks shared out by the executors to those close to the deceased.
Sometimes there is already a funeral plan in place, and it is simply a matter of paying the invoice to the funeral director from the deceased’s account. When not arranged, the plans are left to the executors to arrange and can be a more complex matter, especially if there are strange and specific requests about the funeral in the will.
Taking Responsibility For Property And Post
After taking possession of keys, it can be worth checking that a person’s properties are in an acceptable state. That can be as simple as making a visit and checking that the doors and windows are locked, or maybe adding more security considering that the property may be unoccupied for an uncertain amount of time. If the property is going to be unoccupied for 30 days or more, check the house insurance is still valid. Most polices will treat property as unoccupied and not insured. If this is the case, will you need to take out a new short term unoccupied house insurance policy.
The insurance provider must be notified of the change in occupancy to any property, and new policies may be the best option. If the property is likely to be left unoccupied for an uncertain or short period, there are policies that are available that take your specific needs into account, and may be found in insuring a house after death informational article.
It is also worth notifying the bereavement register that the property is no longer occupied by the deceased. This will stop mail from being delivered to that address.
Valuing The Estate
The executor will also have to present a more accurate figure for the value of all of the deceased’s possessions, property and money. This can involve professional valuations of any expensive items. Items can be part owned too, which can cause complications.
Once you’ve come up with some figures, you can submit them online at www.gov.uk/ valuing-estate-of-someone-who-died/tell-hmrc-estate-value.
Sorting Out Finances
Before you can proceed with lots of the executor’s main duties you have to get the deceased’s bank account and assets in order. Get an original certificate of death to the bank and they will be able to stop any direct debits from leaving the account, as well as offer useful information.
The next thing to do will be to organise payment of taxes owed by the deceased. An accountant can help with this if you’re unsure.
One important thing that executors should organise is the statutory notice for creditors. This notice will be published and will help satisfy your duty to pay out bills and debts on behalf of the deceased before distributing the estate.
Note that after paying tax due plus bills, the estate may be insolvent, in which case, you'll need to get professional help to sort a petition for discharge.
Dealing With Any Assets
As above, all assets of the deceased will have to be put in order by the executors, which includes among other things already mentioned, the stopping of pension schemes and any income payments, the transferral of full ownership on jointly owned property and accounts to the joint owner, collecting any debts owed to the deceased and contacting the life insurance provider for information on making a claim.
Paying Any Inheritance Tax
The tax rules and thresholds concerning inheritance are fairly straightforward, but there are exceptions and rules that can easily be missed. It’s worth looking them up on the HMRC government website, which will tell you everything you need to know. You must pay all tax owed before applying for a grant of probate.
Applying For Probate
Small estates worth less than £5,000 will not require a grant of probate, but other estates will. To get the grant of probate, you can apply by post or online. It’s worth getting multiple copies to give out to the various asset holders. Simply send the relevant forms and documents to the probate registry.
Distributing The Estate
Once probate is granted, the estate can be divided up and distributed. Bequeathed gifts of personal property can be given before the grant of probate if you want to start as soon as you can. Once all properties, assets and possessions are free to distribute, draw up estate accounts to track the movement of assets.