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4 Tips on Handling the Role of Executor

If a friend or family member has made out a will and you find that you have been made its executor, it may seem like a true honour. And it is. You have been entrusted to look after your loved one’s estate.

30 March 2016
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With that comes a lot of responsibility, however, and so to avoid any unnecessary stress, hassle, time and costs, it is crucial to plan the running of the estate. Keeping on top of any admin and paperwork and jotting down deadlines in the diary is key.

There may also be a heap of family issues to contend with so it is crucial to prioritise these to stay on top of your role as executor.

We’ve put together four helpful tips that will support your role as the executor of an estate and will so that it is a manageable and stress-free duty.

  1. Get on Top of Bills

Surely paying bills off as soon as they pass through that letterbox or drop into your email inbox is the true mark of organisation and priorities. Well, actually it isn’t. Bills are, contrary to popular belief, not at the top of the priority list and so emphasis does not have to be placed entirely upon paying credit card bills and invoices as soon as you have received them. Instead, consult with a trust and equity solicitor to understand what payments should be made first.

  1. Weighing Up the Market

During the settlement period, it may be tempting and appear lucrative to try to increase the value of an estate by investing into its assets, by conducting a renovation on a house for example. However, it is best to leave any significant improvements such as these to after the settlement. The executor has no obligation to increase the value of the estate assets during the settlement period, but only to conserve its value. This strategy is particularly risky if a pecuniary - a precise amount calculated from the value of the assets - is given. This is calculated from the tax return relating to the estate and so that exact amount must be distributed, even if the asset value changes.

  1. Managing Real Estate

It can be difficult for family members to reach amicable decisions when it comes to handling real estate, as often one or more beneficiaries may still be living in the property. The listing price itself and commission fees must also be paid and these can be challenging for an executor to calculate. If the house is empty, make sure it is insured in case of fires and accidents. Also, as the executor, make sure you are on top of any maintenance issues to avoid any large repair bills.

  1. Removing Tangible Assets

From the date of the owner’s death, both the tangible and intangible assets are owned by the new entity, the estate. Therefore, the executor is required to keep these assets safe, in good working order and in the way they were left, until a time where they are ready to be distributed following the deceased’s will and wishes.

It is the role of the executor to go through all of the estate and make note of all personal belongings. It is worth remembering that as creditors have to be paid, it may not be worth distributing assets too soon as there may be insufficient assets left to pay creditors.  

If you would like more information on probates and trusts or wills and tax planning, then contact one of our on-hand solicitors today on 01932 840111.