Should you agree to be an executor of a will?

Saturday 4th April 2020

Being an Executor of a Will or the Administrator (if there is no Will) – both also called a Personal Representative – is a task which carries great responsibility. A Personal Representative’s duty is to ascertain any assets and liabilities of a person’s Estate as at the date of death, settle any liabilities out of the assets including any Inheritance or Income Tax that may be payable and funeral expenses and distribute the residue of the Estate in accordance with the terms of the Will or in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy if no Will was made.

There are certain things every non-professional Personal Representative should be aware of when agreeing to be named as an Executor or accepting the role of Executor or Administrator. You will have several responsibilities which you will be liable to carry out. There are many potential problems that could occur throughout the Administration process.

As Personal Representative, you could be held personally liable if you fail to carry out your duties, particularly if you fail to settle all of the deceased’s liabilities, you do not pay the correct amount of Tax or fail to distribute the Estate correctly in accordance with the deceased’s Will or the Rules of Intestacy.

The larger the Estate, the more beneficiaries and the more assets there are, the more potential there is for error.

Administering an Estate can also be very time consuming and costly although, a Personal Representative can claim out of pocket expenses.

If you are a Personal Representative and do not wish to run the risk of any personal liability, it makes sense to instruct an appropriate professional who will deal with the matter for you.

They will of course make a charge which is dependent on the value of the Estate, the time that they spend and the complexity of the matter, but this will be met from Estate funds so you as Personal Representative are not personally liable for that. Instructing a professional would limit the liability to yourself as Personal Representative as they would ensure that the necessary legal precautions have been taken.