The death of a friend or a loved one can, quite understandably, cause a lot of upset and grief. This can be compounded by being appointed as the deceased person’s executor. When acting as an executor, there is not only a lot of emotional stress, but there is also the stress of having to administer the deceased person’s estate.

The role of being an executor can be particularly onerous and time-consuming. There are, of course, important responsibilities associated with acting as an executor and these can lead to the executor being personally liable if mistakes are made when administering the estate. This is irrespective of whether the executor is a beneficiary of the estate or not.

The fundamental role of an executor is to collect in the assets of the estate, pay any liabilities, and then distribute the estate in accordance with the Will. The work involved in being an executor will depend upon what assets there are in the estate and what steps are required to deal with these. For example, if the deceased owned a property in their sole name, a grant of probate would be required to sell the property. Obtaining the grant of probate can be an involved process and, if not done correctly, can result in significant delays in the administration of the estate.

Moreover, depending on the value of the estate, Inheritance Tax might be payable.  It is important that, where Inheritance Tax is payable, the correct information is submitted to HMRC along with any tax due before the expiration of the sixth month after the person has passed away. Failure to comply with this, or not paying the correct amount of tax, can result in penalties being applied by HMRC.

Therefore, acting as an executor can cause significant stress at a time which is particularly difficult. Furthermore, even making small errors can cause the administration of the estate to take an unnecessarily long period of time and failing to fully carry out the duties involved can result in the executor being personally liable. Given this, it is advisable for an executor to seek legal advice so that they can get the help and support that they may need when administering an estate.


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