Around six million people have experience of acting as the Executor of a Will but just 4% realise that they are legally responsible for the accurate distribution of the estate that is entrusted to them. Past research has shown that 96% of Executors did not realise that they were legally and financially responsible for the accurate administration of a deceased person’s estate.
An Executor is responsible for administering the estate and is accountable to Her Majesty Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the beneficiaries. The process of administrating the estate can be daunting given the legal paperwork, tax calculations and various administrative tasks that need to be accurately completed.
The main duty of an Executor is to ensure that the assets and liabilities associated with an estate are managed and dealt with efficiently. This involves valuing the assets, settling all liabilities, such as outstanding debts or mortgages. The Executor is also responsible for distributing what is left to the nominated beneficiaries in line with the instructions left in the deceased’s Will. If an Executor breaches their duty they can be held financially and legally liable for the consequences, even if they were unaware of their wrongdoing.
The time that it takes to administer an estate varies according to its size and complexity, as every estate is different. Administering an estate can be overwhelming, particularly as you will also be dealing with the loss of a loved one. However, Executors have the option to choose to appoint a specialist firm to do the work on their behalf, taking away the added stress at an already difficult time.
There is a clear lack of understanding amongst the public about what to do when someone dies. More specifically, the absent understanding of the liability that is associated with administering an estate. If the assets are distributed incorrectly, or mistakes are made during the estate administration process, it can be of great consequence.
For advice on your responsibilities as an Executor, contact us today.