Being named as the executor of a person’s Will and estate is a huge responsibility. The weight of that responsibility and the likelihood of feeling saddened by the death of someone you were close to can make this process very difficult. There are quite a few things you need to keep in mind as an executor, so we’ve created this helpful checklist for you to use. This list will help to serve as a reminder, reducing the chances of you making any mistakes during this process.
When acting as an executor, your first port of call is to locate all of their assets, including unclaimed assets, so that the distribution process can get underway. If they have a Will, this will state all of or a majority of the deceased’s assets, but there is always the chance that certain things will have slipped their mind when they created their Will. For example, things that may not have had great sentimental or monetary value may be left out. For example, you might find that the person who died simply stated that their property will be left to their children but won’t have explicitly stated what to do with their worldly goods. Either way, these assets and belongings must be located and documented for the future decision of distribution.
Determine If You Need Probate
When someone leaves a Will after their death, you may need probate. This is essentially the legal process of dealing with the deceased’s property and finances after they die. It’s important to prove the validity of a Will if one has been left and to confirm those authorised to manage the estate and execute their Will. There are a few reasons why probate won’t be necessary, such as if they only had monetary savings or owned assets with other people. However, it’s important to check, especially if they have a lot of assets that need to be dealt with. You can apply for probate online once you’ve had the estate valued.
Consider Legal Assistance
Due to how complex this process can be at times, it may be worthwhile getting some advice and assistance during this time. More often than not, while there are people that can help you with this process that aren’t lawyers, getting actual legal advice and counsel can be extremely beneficial. When you are dealing with an estate with many assets and beneficiaries, this increases the chances of problems. Because of this, working with a legal team that deals with contested Wills and estates can be very useful. They can help to minimise any potential issues, and having a professional working as a mediator can be liberating as they will be able to also handle a portion of the workload.
As is one of the primary tasks of an executor, you will need to distribute the assets and estate of the person who has died. This process can be complicated, especially when certain things aren’t written in the Will. Usually, all possessions that aren’t stated in a Will shall be passed on to the surviving married or civil partner. However, if there is no legitimate partner, these possessions will then be passed on to their children. In the event that multiple children are able to inherit, these things will be divided equally between them. If there are no children to inherit, though, the remains of the estate will instead be passed on to close relatives. However, in the rare case that there is nobody that can inherit, these possessions will instead pass to the Crown.
Deal With Day-To-Day Tasks
When taking care of someone’s estate, many smaller tasks must be dealt with alongside things like dealing with beneficiaries. While some of these tasks are relatively small, they are still very important. If some are left until the last minute or even forgotten about, they can snowball into larger problems. For example, you’ll want to notify banks and government agencies that the person has died. You’ll also want to spend some time cancelling certain things when someone dies, such as leases, contracts, and bank accounts.
Arrange For Expense Payments
Certain debts and payments must continue to be paid after someone dies. While beneficiaries won’t inherit debts, contrary to popular belief, those debts will have to be paid in some way. To cover these debts as much as possible, they will be paid off using the funds from the estate. This means the property may need to be sold to cover those expenses, or any money left in the account of the person who has died may be used to cover those debts too. Whatever can be paid must be paid, but in the case that there is not enough money left in the estate to cover those debts in full, or even at all, then those debts will essentially die with them. You don’t have to worry about those debts being passed on to family members or other inheritors and beneficiaries.