2020-05-15
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Why an executor should seek professional advice when administering an estate

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Posted by Rachael Kell on 15 May 2020

Rachael Kell Associate, Probate Manager

It is very common for those making a will to ask a responsible relative or friend to act as the executor of their will when they die. More often than not, people accept the request without really knowing what is involved in administering an estate nor the duties and legal responsibilities it entails.

The size of the estate (i.e. the assets left by the deceased) is not necessarily an indicator of how complicated the administration is likely to be. Sometimes, an estate worth millions can be easier to deal with than one worth considerably less but, regardless of complexity it is important that you administer the estate correctly to avoid any difficulties with beneficiaries or HMRC regarding tax owed.

How we can help

Our probate team has years of experience in helping executors (and administrators of intestate estates) administer estates and we can do as much or as little for you as needed. However, what we will always do is to help you fulfil your responsibilities as tax efficiently as possible while ensuring that all your obligations to HMRC are met.

It goes without saying that the death of a relative or friend is emotionally draining which can become doubly so when taking on the challenge of administering their estate. We can help you navigate your duties and responsibilities as an executor, or administrator, giving you time and space to grieve and deal with personal matters

We can:

  • Ensure the assets and liabilities of the estate are correctly identified and valued, and that the necessary companies are notified.
  • Ensure the correct inheritance tax allowances and reliefs are applied to the estate and the correct HMRC forms are completed accurately and submitted on time.
  • Ensure the correct tax is paid when due in order to limit any interest owed and avoid penalties.
  • Arrange for searches and notices to check for later wills, unknown assets and creditors.
  • Notify and deal with queries from beneficiaries, acting impartially to avoid potential disputes.
  • Collect in the estate assets to our client account, enabling payments to be made for liabilities and expenses without the need to open a separate executor’s bank account.
  • Deal with estate agents during the marketing of the property, assist with clearance arrangements and related transactions such as insurance, council tax and utility bills.
  • Undertake bankruptcy searches on beneficiaries before payment, and make direct payments to their bank accounts, whether in the UK or abroad.
  • Produce a full set of estate accounts for your approval which are then sent to the residuary beneficiaries to show what has been undertaken in the estate.

As we are governed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority rules, we can guarantee that you will receive a professional service delivered by probate specialists, all of whom have been working in this area for many years.

We know that professional fees are a concern for everyone and so we will send you a questionnaire to complete so we can establish how much work will be involved in administering the estate before giving you an accurate estimate. In most situations, we are able to offer you the choice of a time-based estimate range or a fixed rate quote. It is worth remembering that any professional costs and external disbursement expenses are payable from the estate before anything is distributed to the beneficiaries (although there are some circumstances when you may be requested to contribute to these until reimbursement is possible from the estate assets, but we will always advise you in advance).

Administering an estate is an onerous business due to the number of forms that have to be completed and the amount of cross-referencing that is required. The more complex the estate, the more onerous the administration, making it very easy for an executor, unfamiliar with the system, to overlook a potential relief, or reliefs, or worse, missing something that might be material as far as HMRC is concerned when assessing liability for IHT.

About the author

Rachael Kell

Associate, Probate Manager

Rachael is our Probate Manager, leading the probate team whilst also acting in administering individuals’ estates on behalf of private executors or when Wright Hassall members are executors, or on behalf of administrators for intestate estates.

Rachael Kell

Rachael is our Probate Manager, leading the probate team whilst also acting in administering individuals’ estates on behalf of private executors or when Wright Hassall members are executors, or on behalf of administrators for intestate estates.

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