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Executors' 'formidable task' explained - Lilly Whale published in Professional Adviser

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Professional Adviser – the leading publication for financial advisers - has published Lilly Whale’s article on the ‘formidable task’ presented to executors, offering wide-ranging guidance on the resulting responsibilities.

You can read Lilly Whale’s full article on the role of an executor on the Professional Adviser website at the following link: https://www.professionaladviser.com/opinion/4030444/lilly-whale-executors-formidable-task-explained

Lilly answers the following key questions:

What is an executor and what do they do?

An executor is responsible for gathering together the details of an estate, settling any expenses, debts and inheritance tax (IHT) and then distributing the balance in accordance with the deceased's wishes. 

How should an executor identify the deceased’s assets?

The executor must undertake thorough searches to identify the deceased's assets - bank accounts, shareholdings, pensions and so on, as well as physical belongings such as jewellery, cars or antiques - and liabilities, such as outstanding debts or mortgages.

Is the executor responsible for reporting to HMRC?

Once the size and extent of the estate is established, the executor is then responsible for reporting to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and settling the IHT due. During the course of the administration, the executor will also likely have to settle capital gains tax and income tax liabilities.

Should an executor seek professional advice?

Given the work involved, it will come as no surprise that executors frequently employ professional advisers such as solicitors to help them deal with the administration of the estate.

What are the risks involved in being an executor?

Despite the obvious time commitment, there are risks that ought to be carefully weighed up before undertaking any task concerning the estate.

Is it possible to renounce executorship?

While it is possible to renounce executorship, you cannot do so if the court considers that you have ‘intermeddled' in the estate - a legal term meaning that the executor has already started dealing with the estate or its assets.

What risks are involved in being an executor?

Undoubtedly the biggest risk for most is personal liability: an executor can be held liable for the debts of an estate. Other risks might include: failing to properly investigate the size of the estate, not properly accounting for expenses, failing to settle other debts, wrongly distributing the estate or even failing to gather in certain assets. Again, professional advice could help to navigate an executor through these sometimes difficult waters.

You can read Lilly Whale’s full article on the role of an executor on the Professional Adviser website at the following link: https://www.professionaladviser.com/opinion/4030444/lilly-whale-executors-formidable-task-explained

Contact Lilly Whale

If you have any question relating to your role as an executor to an estate please contact Lilly Whale at lwhale@gdlaw.co.uk or on +44 (0)20 7092 8522

Lilly Whale

Lilly Whale is a specialist solicitor advising individuals and families in relation to inheritance tax, the formation of family trusts and estate planning.

Goodman Derrick – Private Client

Our Private Client team offer expert advice to individuals and their families on a wide range of matters, the group:

  • assists in drafting wills which best suit our clients’ particular family circumstances
  • has wide experience in obtaining probate including dealing with the estates of non-domiciled persons and assets overseas
  • registers enduring and lasting powers of attorney with the Court and have experience in dealing with contested applications to register
  • provides assistance with the day-to–day administration of trusts

Goodman Derrick LLP - a London law firm focused on delivering an exceptional service to ambitious businesses and entrepreneurs.

More information

This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice. If you require any further information about the issues raised in this article please contact the author or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your usual Goodman Derrick contact.