Step One – Assets and 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 the date of their 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 is to find out what the value of the debts and assets were when the deceased died. A Solicitor can do this for you by writing to various companies to obtain the date of death values for the assets and debts.
Step Two – Apply for Probate
The second stage is to apply for a Grant of Probate.
Probate is basically a Court sealed certificate that enables the Executor to close or transfer assets. It is granted by the Probate Registry which is part of the court system.
As Solicitors we can 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 that all the information is true and correct.
There are two main tax forms. One for more complex estates namely the IHT400 and a simpler one called the IHT205 for smaller estates and those that do not 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 first instalment of Inheritance Tax is due before Probate can be granted so needs to be paid in advance.
What if I don’t want to be the Executor?
There are several routes you can go down.
The first one being filling out a form allowing someone else to act as Executor on your behalf. This is a special Power of Attorney and we can help you organise this.
If you do not want someone else to act for you and you have not already carried out any Executor duties then you can renounce. We can help you draft the necessary form to do this.
The final option and a common one is to have what is termed “Power Reserved.” This means that you will not act as an Executor and you want to leave it to the other Executors. A common situation is where children are appointed as Executors and they agree that just one of them will apply for the Grant of Probate. The Executors not applying can apply in the future if they want through a separate application. We can help and advise if this may be applicable.
If you would like more information please do not hesitate to contact one of our solicitors using our contact page
In Summary some of the main roles of an Executor are to:-
- Pay all debts and expenses
- Pay all taxes due – Income tax, Inheritance Tax
- Declare any gifts made by the deceased during their lifetime
- Keep the assets safe and insured
- Inform all utility suppliers
- Contact pension providers
- Organise the clearance of any property
- Sign all forms and transfers
- Declare information to be true and correct – it is a criminal offence if any information is inaccurate
- Produce a set of accounts for the beneficiaries
- Provide the beneficiaries with tax certificates on interest
- Pay interest on legacies after one year
- Deal with the estate in a timely manner
- Set up any trusts as set out in the Will
- Agree legal costs
- Deal with any claims made against the estate