You should be aware that if you are appointed to serve as the executor of someone’s estate after they pass away, there are a range of duties that you will be obligated to carry out. Helping you navigating these often confusing waters, here is Prestige Tax and Trust Services’ to do list for executors.
Your primary responsibility, as an executor, will be to administer the deceased’s estate, according to their wishes as laid out in their will. If they did not leave a will, they will have died intestate, meaning that you cannot be their executor. Instead, the courts will appoint an administrator to fulfil a similar purposes. As an executor of somebody’s estate, you should carry out the following tasks…
- Register death: You will need to register the death with the British government, to receive death certificates. You will require these documents to do everything from arranging the deceased’s funeral, the next step you should take as an executor, to settling their debts.
- Prepare the assets: Next, prepare the assets of the deceased, for evaluation purposes. This involves securing any property they owned, gathering their financial records and writing to any organisations they had an interest in, to request the information needed for probate.
- Value the estate: Now it is time to value the estate, to determine whether it owes inheritance tax to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Determine the worth of each asset to attain a gross value, then subtract any debts they owed and gifts they gave away while alive for a net value.
- Calculate inheritance tax: Use this net value, to determine whether the deceased owes inheritance tax. The current threshold is £325,000 and anything above this amount is charged a 40% tax. There are certain exemptions that can reduce the bill, which we can advise you on.
- Raise the funds: If the estate eclipses the inheritance tax threshold, you need to raise the funds to pay this bill to HMRC. You can do this, for example, by selling or borrowing some of the deceased’s personal assets. You must conduct this stage before applying for probate.
- Apply for probate: You must apply for probate, to gain permission to administer the estate. You will need to apply for a grant of representation to your local probate registry. This involves filling out probate and inheritance tax forms and visiting the registry to swear an oath.
- Open an account: You will receive copies of the grant in the post, within ten days of swearing your oath. You can use this to open an executor’s bank account, so you can gather payments. Use price comparison services like Money Saving Expert to find the best account provider.
- Send copies: Send copies of the grant to each organisation (e.g. banks) which handled the deceased’s assets, so they can release said assets and close all accounts. Also advertise for creditors if necessary, so you can ensure that all of the deceased’s debts will be paid off.
- Respond to queries: If HMRC have any queries over the value of the estate’s assets or liabilities, agree final payment terms with them. If any additional assets or liabilities have come to your attention since probate was granted, report these to HMRC too.
- Pay off debts: It is now time to pay off any debts the deceased owed up until the point of death. This includes inheritance tax and all other taxes. Complete an income tax return for the tax year before they died and if administration of the estate is not completed within one year, you will need to fill out additional income tax returns for each relevant tax year.
- Get discharged: With all debts paid off, you can get a signed discharge certificate from HMRC, giving you permission to release the assets to beneficiaries. In order to do this, you will need to ask HMRC for form IHT30, fill this out and have every executor sign the document.
- Administer the legacies: Check that no claims have been made against the estate, in the six month period after probate was granted. Now you can distribute the legacies, as prescribed in the deceased’s will, to the beneficiaries. Ensure the beneficiaries give you a receipt.
- Administer the residue: After this, turn your attention to the residuary beneficiaries, who are entitled to inherit the remainder of the estate (residue) under the rules of intestacy. Draw up the estate’s accounts, ask the beneficiaries to approve them, then pay them this residue.
You should then wait for any payments to complete, close your executor’s account and after this, the probate process will be complete. We would advise you to keep all of the estate’s accounts, along with its other principle documents, for 12 years afterwards, as they may be requested by HMRC.
Prestige Tax and Trust Services
The to do list that you take on as an executor includes various complex legal tasks. You may want to enlist expert aid, to ensure you can fulfil these duties within the law. At Prestige Tax and Trust Services, we are experts on probate matters, so we can advise you on how to handle your duties as an executor.