If you’ve been appointed as an executor in someone’s Will, this means you’ll be the person dealing with the administration of their entire estate. You may have been appointed alongside other executors or you could be going it alone. Here are my five recommendations to make the role of executor as stress-free as possible.
1. Go through the deceased person’s paperwork
One of the first things you need to do is figure out what assets the deceased person had. This might be a big job, but it is essential. You will eventually need to gather in all the assets and pay out any debts due by the estate (debts could include a tax liability).
A useful starting place is for you to look at bank statements. You should take a note of direct debits going out and where money has come in from. You can then contact these companies for further information.
It’s a good idea if you create an inventory of all assets as you go along. Every time you find something new, add it to the list!
2. Speak to the beneficiaries
The next thing you might consider doing is contacting the beneficiaries named in the Will.
Beneficiaries are often family members and they may be able to help you establish what assets the deceased person had. They may have additional information you cannot find in the paperwork.
3. Avoid disputes
Beneficiaries may want certain items of the deceased person’s estate, often because of their sentimental value. Make sure you check the Will for any specific legacies.
If the estate is simply to be divided among family members then it’s sensible for you to tell everyone what the assets are and try to reach an agreement for distribution.
4. Consider instructing a solicitor
The amount of work involved for you will depend on the value of the deceased person’s estate. In some cases, you will require Confirmation. Confirmation is an application to the court for a certificate giving the executors authority to deal with the individual items of the estate. Banks may require it before they release money and it is always required on estates where the deceased person owned a property in their sole name.
It may be possible for you to complete the confirmation process yourself, but you shouldn’t feel under pressure to do so. In fact, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service recommends that if an estate is worth over £36,000, you should seek legal advice.
If you feel in doubt about what you are doing, contact a solicitor who deals with executry administration. They can assist you with the administration process or point you in the right direction.
5. Wait six months
It is a general rule that you shouldn’t distribute an estate until six months have passed from the deceased’s date of death.
This is to allow time for any debts to be established. If all the funds are paid out and it then becomes apparent that there is a debt on the estate, the executors will be liable to pay this debt. You should only release the funds after six months have passed to avoid incurring any personal liability.
Video: Executries – Helping You When a Will Has Been Left
You might also be interested in this short video. Lindsay Maclean, Head of Personal Law, answers some of the questions you might have about executries, and about the role of executor of a Will.
Contact us about the role of executor in a will
At Gibson Kerr, our Personal Law Solicitors in Edinburgh and Glasgow can help you with your executry. If you would like to arrange a meeting, or have any questions about the process, please do not hesitate to contact us.