When you’re writing your Will, you will need to choose the right person to be your executor. We look at what being an executor entails and whether that person can also be a beneficiary.
It is important when writing your Will that the executor you name is someone you trust to deal with your affairs after you’ve gone. Estate administration can be a long and sometimes complicated matter and you need to be sure that the person you have chosen is willing to act and capable of doing so.
It is perfectly acceptable for your executor to be a beneficiary as well, in fact this is often the case.
The role of executor
Your executor will be responsible for all administrative matters, starting with funeral arrangements and registering the death with the appropriate authorities. You can choose more than one executor should you wish.
They need to notify all asset holders and other organisations and then collect in and value the assets.
Other ancillary jobs such as putting vacant property insurance in place and making arrangements to check on any property regularly also fall to the executor.
Once the estate has been valued, tax needs to be calculated and paid. This includes Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and in some instances Capital Gains Tax.
Once the estate is in funds, outstanding debts need to be paid and estate accounts prepared.
The final job is to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries. This may involve transfer of assets and gifts of personal possessions as well as cash payments.
The role of beneficiary
A beneficiary will be notified that they have been left something in the Will, but won’t necessarily be regularly updated on the probate process unless there are delays. As well as receiving their named gift, they are also entitled to see the estate accounts.
If no valid Will exists
Where the deceased didn’t leave a Will, their estate passes under the Rules of Intestacy, which state that assets pass to close family members in a strict order. The spouse is at the top of the list, with children next. The person heading the list is entitled to act as executor if they choose. If they do not wish to take on the role, then the next person has the option of doing it.
By ensuring that you have a valid Will in place, you have the chance to appoint your choice of executor as well as ensuring that your assets are left to those you wish to benefit.
If you would like to talk to one of our expert Will writers, ring us on on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After someone dies, their assets need to be collected in and distributed to their beneficiaries. We look at the deadlines for completing this work.
The person who deals with the administration of an estate is known as the executor or, where there was no Will, the administrator. It is their job to value the estate, apply for probate if needed, work out any tax liability, discharge debts, liquidate assets, prepare estate accounts and arrange for distribution of the money and personal items in accordance with the Will or the rules of intestacy.
The time limit for administration
One year is allowed for completing the administration, with Inheritance Tax due by the end of the sixth month after the person’s death.
If the deceased had assets in many different places, for example different bank accounts, shareholdings and assurance policies, then it can take a considerable amount of time to even work out how much is in the estate.
For this reason, it is advisable to start work on the administration as soon as possible and make sure there are no avoidable delays.
If there is a property, this will need to be sold. Again, this can take a considerable amount of time, so the wheels need to be set in motion early on. This may involve valuing items, selling contents and arranging for clearance as well as the actual property sale itself.
When the work can’t be completed in a year
It is not unusual for administration to take longer than a year, for example if it takes a long time to find a buyer for the house or if there is an issue with a government department such as the Department for Work and Pensions.
Where the executor or administrator can show that they have acted in the best interests of the estate and that the delay is justifiable, then more time is usually permitted.
If the delay continues, interim accounts can be prepared and interim payments made to the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries will be entitled to interest on payments that remain outstanding after the one year period has come to an end.
Deed of variation deadline
If a beneficiary wants to change the share they receive, for example to include another family member or for Inheritance Tax reasons, they can execute a deed of variation to redirect part of their legacy to someone else. The deadline for signing a deed of variation is two years from the date of death.
If you are concerned about the time limits for completing an estate administration, you can engage a professional to deal with the work on your behalf.
If you would like to speak to an experienced probate lawyer, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at email@example.com.
Writing a Will involves more than simply choosing who to give your money to. We look at what you should consider when making a Will.
Your Will is the document that tells people what you would like to happen to your estate after your death. If you have young children, it can also ensure that they are cared for and provided for.
The following are points to think about before having your Will drawn up:
Executors are the people responsible for dealing with the administration of an estate. They will need to collect in and value the assets then arrange for transfer or sale of them and distribution of money to your beneficiaries.
It can be a complicated and time-consuming job, so it is important to choose people who you believe are capable of carrying it out, as well as those you trust implicitly. It is possible to appoint a professional executor, for example a solicitor.
If your children are under 18, you should use your Will to appoint a guardian for them in the event of your death.
If you don’t choose someone yourself, then it will be for the court to decide who should raise them. You should speak to your choice of guardian and make sure that they are happy to take on the role.
If you wish, you can include funeral arrangements in your Will, however bear in mind that they will not be legally binding. It can give your loved ones an idea of what you would have wanted however, so it can be of comfort to them. You should make sure that you have also told them that your wishes have been included in your Will in case they do not have sight of it straight away.
You can leave gifts of money or items in your Will, known as specific legacies. These can be given to named individuals or charities.
This is the portion of your estate that remains after all expenses, debts and specific legacies have been paid. You can leave it to one person or split it between several, giving each one a named share, for example a third.
The important thing to bear in mind is that if your estate ends up being smaller than you had anticipated, then the residual amount may be far less than you wanted to give to someone. Those receiving specific legacies will still receive their money first, and those sharing the residuary estate may be left with very little.
To speak to one of our expert Will lawyers, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More people than ever are leaving assets in foreign countries when they die, making administration of their estate more complex. We look at some of the main considerations.
One of the first questions to be answered is which country was the permanent home or country of domicile of the deceased.
If you are domiciled in the UK, Inheritance Tax is payable on your assets wherever they are located. If you are domiciled elsewhere then you may be liable for Inheritance Tax on your UK assets as well as tax payable in other countries.
All of the assets in the estate need to be valued. At this stage, approaches can be made to foreign asset holders to ask what they need from the executor, such as a certified copy of the death certificate or Grant of Probate.
Foreign property ownership
A Will made in the UK may specifically refer to foreign property, or alternatively there may be a Will made in the country where the property is located.
If there isn’t a Will at all, then the property would pass under the rules of succession that apply in the country where the property is.
Other assets held abroad
Other countries may require to see the UK Grant of Probate which would sometimes be resealed in that country. Alternatively, it may be a requirement that probate is also obtained in the country where the asset is held.
Why you need expert advice for foreign assets
Administering an estate which includes foreign assets can be lengthy and complicated. The best way to ensure things go as smoothly as possible is for anyone with foreign holdings to seek legal advice in drawing up the relevant Wills to cover all of their assets.
Some countries may have laws which clash with those of the UK, for example in France and Spain, where property may pass to specific heirs regardless of the terms of any Will.
Finding out the situation well in advance and undertaking estate planning in the light of the different laws can make a huge difference to the executor or administrator of a Will.
When it comes to dealing with the administration of an estate containing foreign assets, it is advisable to take advice from lawyers in the country where the assets are held to ensure that their laws and tax requirements are not breached.
If you would like to speak to one of our expert Will and tax lawyers, call us on 01243 216900 or email us at email@example.com.