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Executor’s Duties: What to Expect During the Probate Process

The passing of a loved one is undoubtedly a challenging time, and for those entrusted with the role of an executor, the responsibilities can be overwhelming. Understanding the duties of an executor during this process is essential for a smooth and efficient administration of the estate.

Locating Assets and Liabilities

The first duty of an executor is to compile a comprehensive list of the deceased’s assets and liabilities. This includes properties, bank accounts, investments, debts, and any other relevant financial information. All companies whom the deceased had an asset or liability with should be notified of the death. Some financial providers may allow the executors to close the deceased person’s account at this stage in the process, however, some assets (including selling a property) will require a Grant of Probate.

Notifying Beneficiaries

Executors have a duty to inform beneficiaries named in the Will about their entitlements. Managing these communications promptly helps prevent disputes and ensures a transparent probate process.

Applying for Probate

Once the assets and liabilities are identified, the executor can then apply for a Grant of Probate from the Probate Registry. A Grant of Probate provides the executor with the authority to manage and distribute the deceased’s estate. The application involves submitting the Will, along with relevant documents, and paying the necessary fees.

If Inheritance Tax (IHT) needs to be paid, the executor will also need to prepare IHT forms to be submitted to HMRC and arrange to pay any tax owed prior to applying for the Grant of Probate.

Dealing with Assets and Liabilities

For assets that require a Grant of Probate to be dealt with, these can now be sold or cashed in. Once the estate has sufficient funds, prior to making any payments to beneficiaries, any outstanding liabilities need to be paid.

Distributing the Estate

Once debts and taxes are settled, the executor can proceed with distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms outlined in the Will. It’s crucial to adhere strictly to the deceased’s wishes and to keep meticulous records of all transactions during the entire probate process.

Finalizing the Estate

After distributing the estate, the executor is tasked with finalising the probate process. This involves preparing a detailed account of the estate administration, including financial transactions and distributions.