If you have ever been named as an Executor in someone's Will then you already know that this is a very important role and carries with it great responsibilities.
An Executor is someone you choose when making your Will. It's someone you trust to carry out your wishes after your death.
As an Executor, it's your duty to obtain the Death Certificate and to forward copies to the institutions and organisations relating to the estate of the deceased. For example, you will need to compile a full and comprehensive list of every bank account, savings account, investments, pensions, benefits, as well as all debts, such as credit cards, loans, catalogue accounts, paypal accounts, plus all details of HM Revenue liabilities.
This so that once you have collected all the funds into a new Executor bank account, which you also have to arrange, you can examine the Will and make payments to the beneficiaries.
It should be noted that you can only start paying out the beneficiaries after all the monies have arrived and all debts have been paid in full.
There is a strict code of order as to who should be paid first, with funeral expenses, HMRC and benefit overpayments being at the top of the list. If any assets hold secured lending, such as car finance or a house with a mortgage or secured loan, these should be addressed as high priority too.
Once you are satisfied that all debts have been paid, you can then scrutinise the Will to see who should receive the remaining funds and that they are split in accordance with the deceased's wishes in the Will.
Of course, you might find yourself under pressure by certain beneficiaries asking for an interim payment whilst the assets and liabilities are still being sorted out and this is fine, as long as you are sure that the funds already received can sustain these payments without detriment to any remaining debts.
As an Executor you are also expected to set up trusts if they are contained in the Will. This is very important, especially where trusts are required to hold assets until a child beneficiary reaches the age of consent.
What if you are named as an Executor but don't feel you can cope with the tasks or responsibility? If this is the case you can rescind your responsibilities and appoint someone to take your place, or defer to any other named Executors in the Will.
You also have the option to appoint someone or a professional body to act on your behalf, and many people do this in order to share the responsibility and workload.
There are a number of guides on how to be an effective Executor available, but should you feel that you would like a more hands on service, we are more than happy to offer as little or as much help as you feel you need.