Probate – The role of the executor

Probate – The role of the executor

Being an executor of someone’s estate can indeed feel like a privilege – they trust you and thought highly of you. But it can also be terrifying – where do you start and what do you do?

Being an executor can be terrifying – where do you start and what do you do?

Well put simply, you, as an executor, are responsible for sorting everything out i.e. closing accounts, paying tax, paying all debts and acting according to the Will.

Step one – assets & debts

You must establish what assets they have i.e. savings, shares, house, insurance policies, jewellery etc. You must also find out if they have any debts at their date of death such as mortgages, utility bills, credit cards etc. To find the assets and debts you must go through the deceased’s paperwork to find the information. The next stage then is to find out the value of the debts and assets when the deceased died. A lot of the time as Solicitors we will do this for you as part of our role and write to confirm the date of death values for the assets and debts.

Step two – apply for probate

The second stage is applying for a grant of probate/grant of representation.

What is Probate? – Probate is basically a court sealed certificate that has the name and address of the executor on it which then enables them to close or transfer assets. It is granted by the probate registry which is part of the court system.

As solicitors, we help you at this stage by drafting an oath and the necessary tax form. The oath explains some of the information about the deceased and as the executor, you are confirming on oath that all the information is true and correct. There are two main tax forms one for more complex estates the IHT400 and a simpler one called the IHT205 for smaller estates and those that don’t have to pay Inheritance Tax.

If there is inheritance tax to pay then we will advise you and discuss how this might be funded. The initial lump sum of inheritance tax is due before the first instalment of inheritance tax is due.

  • Quick Concise Summary of some of the main roles of being an executor:-
  • Responsible for paying all debts and expenses
  • Paying all taxes due – Income tax, Inheritance Tax
  • Declaring any gifts made by the deceased during their lifetime
  • Keeping the assets safe and insured
  • Informing all utility suppliers
  • Contacting pension providers
  • Organising the clearance of any property
  • Signing all forms and transfers
  • Declaring information to be true and correct – criminal offence if inaccurate
  • Producing a set of accounts for the beneficiaries
  • Providing the beneficiaries with tax certificates on interest
  • Pay interest on legacies after one year
  • Dealing with estate in a timely manner
  • Setting up any trusts as set out in the Will
  • Agreeing legal costs
  • Dealing with any claims made against the estate

If you would like more information on any of the issues raised in our blog, please do not hesitate to contact one of members who specialises in Probate.

David Sinclair

David Sinclair

Chairman of SFE

David, Chairman of SFE, runs a practice called Acorn Solicitors in Somerset that he set up in 2009 that specialises in Wills, Probate, Conveyancing and Elderly Client Matters. “As part of my role in running a local law firm I am passionate about raising funds for local charities and supporting our local economy. It’s a privilege to work for older clients and I love hearing their stories and their wisdom.”

Ruth Pyatt

Ruth Pyatt

Senior Associate at Birketts

Ruth Pyatt is a Senior Associate in the Wills and Advisory Team of Birketts. She is a fully accredited member of SFE and a STEP Technician.  She is based in the Norwich Office of Birketts but also works out of Ipswich, Cambridge and Chelmsford.  Ruth advises on elderly affairs as well as having experience in contentious and non-contentious estates administration and trust work. Birketts is a full service top 100 UK law firm and their Private Client Team was winner of ‘Private Client Firm (Regional) of the Year’ at The Legal 500 UK 2017 Awards.