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An executor is a named person in a will appointed to handle a person’s estate (money, property and possessions) after they die.
You may be flattered if someone asks you to be an executor (or ’executor nominate’ in Scotland) of their estate after their death, but you may be unsure as to what your duties and responsibilities will be. Being an executor may go on for months or even years and you should think carefully about undertaking this commitment.
In this article we explore some of the details of what to expect and key responsibilities.
You can be an executor even if you are named in the will to inherit something from the estate. The person making the will can appoint up to four executors so you can share the responsibility with others.
Executors can claim expenses from the estate for this work.
Solicitors can help you with your role as an Executor. You can find a solicitor in your area through:
There are a range of tasks that you must carry out as an executor. These include:
If there is a surviving joint owner, they would normally automatically own the money in the account. Send a death certificate to the bank or financial institution so they can update their records. The value of the deceased person’s share is included when calculating the value of the estate for IHT.
If the deceased person owned property with another person as ‘beneficial joint tenants’ (‘survivorship destination’ in Scotland’) their share of the property automatically passes to the surviving joint owner. The property doesn’t form part of the estate, but the value of the person’s share is included when calculating the value of the estate for IHT.
If the deceased person had a pension, contact the company and provide a death certificate. Ask whether death benefits are payable and whether there is a pension scheme for a spouse, civil partner or children. Confirm whether any money will be paid directly to someone, rather than forming part of the estate. If the money does form part of the estate, check that the amount doesn’t need to be included in any IHT return.
Being an executor is a role for life; if any claims against the estate come up in the future, you will have to deal with them, and you must carry out your duties correctly. Think carefully before accepting the role as it can be difficult to go back on your decision later. You won’t be able to step down once you have started your duties as executor.
If you have accepted the role but change your mind:
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