26th MAY 2022
What is an executor?
When someone writes a Will, they are encouraged to name an Executor. The Executor will be responsible for administering their estate and carrying out the wishes outlined in the Will following their death. This process is known as Probate.
What is the role of an executor?
The Executor of a Will has the most involved role to play in Probate by far. This person is responsible for ensuring that the deceased’s wishes are carried out as accurately as possible.
The key responsibility of an Executor is to carry out Probate. While this may sound simple enough, Probate is an extremely complicated process that can take over a year to complete if the estate is particularly large or complex.
What are the responsibilities of the Executor during Probate?
There are a number of responsibilities that the Executor must take on during the Probate process. Below, these responsibilities are listed in consecutive order.
Registering the death
In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, a death must be registered within five days. In Scotland, this must be done within eight days of the death.
In order to register a death, the Executor must get in touch with the deceased’s local register office and book an appointment. During this appointment, the Executor will be given an official death certificate, which gives them permission to arrange the funeral.
Arranging the funeral
The deceased may have made specific requirements for their funeral in the Will, so the Executor should obtain a copy and read it through first to ensure that they can carry out the deceased’s wishes as closely as possible.
Once the Will has been obtained, funeral arrangements can commence.
Protecting the estate
Before you can begin administering the estate, the Executor must ensure that its value is completely protected. Any property included in the Will must be secured and all valuable assets should be brought into the Executor’s possession to avoid the risk of theft.
The Executor is responsible for getting in contact with a number of different organisations to notify them of the death so that they can take the necessary steps to protect the deceased’s funds and freeze their accounts. Below is a list of organisations that must be notified in the first few weeks following the death. Remember that every estate is different, and some of these organisations may not apply to the deceased.
Calculating the value of the estate
The Executor is responsible for calculating the value of the deceased’s assets, including bank accounts, property, taxes and debts owed, stocks and shares, life insurance policies, and pension funds.
This process will be significantly easier if the deceased left an inventory of assets in their Will, so the Executor should read this through thoroughly first.
If the value of the estate is below £10,000 or the deceased did not own any property, it is unlikely that the Executor will need to apply for Probate.
Applying for Probate
The main responsibility of an Executor is to apply for Probate. To obtain a Grant of Probate, the Executor needs to submit a form to the Probate Registry.
If the deceased left a Will, the form required is called PA1P. If they did not leave a Will, the form is called PA1A. Alongside the Probate form, a tax form must be submitted.
A Grant of Probate will cost the Executor £215, with each extra copy costing a further £1.50. It is recommended that several copies are purchased, as several organisations will need to see this document.
The Executor should ensure that no errors are made on either form, as this can significantly delay their approval. These forms are complex, so the Executor might consider hiring an Executorship service to help them.
Handling the estate
When the Executor’s application for Probate has been approved, they have legal permission to begin handling the estate.
This process involves distributing the deceased’s assets to the beneficiaries listed in the Will, selling any property listed in the Will, closing bank accounts, claiming on life insurance policies, and paying off debts and taxes. This can take anywhere from three months to one year depending on the size and complexity of the estate.
As an executor, can I get professional help with the probate process?
Many people find the probate process to be extremely complicated and time-consuming. Often, the deceased will have named a close family member or friend as Executor, meaning that this tiring responsibility comes following the death of a loved one, which is already a traumatic time. Therefore, it is not a surprise that many Executors elect to hire a professional to handle the process for them.
Many Executors choose to hire a Solicitor to take on their responsibilities in the Probate process. This can be a huge help in a difficult time, but it can be extremely costly.
At Kwil, we offer an Executorship service starting from just £999, which is a significantly lower price than most Solicitors are able to offer. This service covers all the benefits of a full service from a professional Executor, but at an affordable price. Our team is fully qualified to handle estate administration and highly experienced in this domain.
Kwil’s Executorship Services offer a number of benefits for an Executor, not limited to simply taking the pressure off. At Kwil, we pride ourselves on excellent customer service, and will always be available to answer any questions from the Executor or Beneficiaries during the Probate process. If any conflict should arise amongst the Beneficiaries or family of the deceased, we will act as an unbiased third party to ensure that it is solved quickly and fairly. Moreover, we always charge a fixed fee that will not change during the course of administration, unlike many Solicitors.
What Rights Does A Beneficiary Have?
The death of a loved one can be an incredibly difficult and stressful time. Finding out that you have been named a beneficiary in their Will might be welcome news, but it can occasionally bring more questions than answers.
This article will explain the legal rights that a beneficiary has over the Will and the inheritance. It will also explain how long it should take for a beneficiary to receive their inheritance, and what a beneficiary should do if they suspect that the executor is not behaving responsibly or fulfilling their duties adequately during the Probate process.
Legal Rights of a Beneficiary
A beneficiary is entitled to the inheritance listed for them in the deceased’s Will. This inheritance might be a specific item such as a vehicle or property, or it might be funds from the estate.
Beneficiaries are not entitled to read the Will before a Grant of Probate has been acquired; only the executor of the Will is entitled to do this. However, the executor has a responsibility to ensure that all beneficiaries are kept in the loop about the Will and the Probate process from the start. This includes notifying the beneficiaries of their inheritance as soon as possible to avoid confusion down the line.
If a loved one or relative of yours has passed away and you believe that you may be a beneficiary to the estate but have not yet been contacted by the executor or administrator of the Will, you should make yourself known to this person as soon as possible to remain in the loop about their progress in acquiring a Grant of Probate and distributing assets.
How long does it take to receive an inheritance?
The length of time it takes to receive an inheritance from the Will as a beneficiary varies depending on the type of inheritance. In most Wills, gifts are divided into three categories: specific gifts, pecuniary gifts, and residuary gifts.
A specific gift is an item such as a vehicle. If you are the beneficiary of a specific gift, you should receive your inheritance sooner than pecuniary and residuary beneficiaries as the item can simply be handed over following your loved one’s death.
Delays may occur when the asset is not a physical item, but rather something that needs to be released or transferred from an organisation such as shares in a company. Moreover, if the estate contains significant liabilities (debts and taxes), specific gifts may need to be sold in order to pay these off, in which case the beneficiary will not receive an inheritance.
Pecuniary beneficiaries are entitled to a specific sum of money outlined in the Will.
Pecuniary beneficiaries will need to wait longer than specific gift beneficiaries in most cases, because a Grant of Probate is usually required before funds can be released from financial organisations. It can take up to three months to receive this Grant, so pecuniary beneficiaries should be prepared to wait for their inheritance.
Residuary beneficiaries are entitled to inherit whatever is left of the estate after all liabilities have been paid and all specific and pecuniary gifts have been distributed. These beneficiaries will have to wait the longest to receive their inheritance.
How can a beneficiary hold the executor responsible?
The executor of a Will is responsible for handling the administration of the deceased’s estate in a fair and timely way. The executor must administer the estate in accordance with the Will, and must always act in the best interests of the beneficiaries.
If the beneficiaries feel that the executor is abusing their position by making decisions that breach the terms of the Will or are not in their best interest, or the executor is simply taking too long to complete the Probate process, the beneficiaries are legally entitled to challenge the executor and might even take them to court to hold them financially liable for their actions.
While the executor should be keeping the beneficiaries in the loop throughout the process, the beneficiaries can access further information via the Estate Accounts. This is an extensive list of all money and assets that enters or leaves the estate once probate has started. The executor is responsible for keeping this list up to date and the beneficiaries are entitled to view it throughout the process to ensure that the executor is behaving responsibly and in a way that serves their best interests.