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What it means to be appointed as an executor

Will document with fountain pen on topIf you’re appointed as an executor of a deceased person’s estate you may be wondering what it is you have to do.

Below, we take a look at the role of an executor, how somebody becomes appointed, and what you can do beforehand to make sure you act in the role as efficiently as possible if you’re asked to be an executor of an estate by somebody who is writing their will.

What is an executor of an estate?

Firstly, it’s important to understand exactly what being appointed as an executor of an estate actually means.

An executor of an estate is the person who is appointed to administer the estate of someone who is deceased. The main duty of the executor is to officially carry out instructions to manage the affairs and requests of things that were owned by the deceased person.

Who selects the person who should be appointed executor of an estate?

The executor (or executrix - the feminised version) is appointed by the person who made the will, or if there was no prior appointment in place, then the executor will be appointed by a court.

Read: Should I Use A Solicitor As An Executor?

What are executors responsible for?

An executor of an estate has the responsibility of ensuring that all assets owned by the deceased person are correctly accounted for, as well as being responsible for transferring the assets to the correct beneficiaries. Assets that are to be transferred may include things such as money or other financial holdings (stocks, shares, bonds etc.), property and chattels, or any items of value or sentiment - such as vehicles, jewellery etc.

Before assets are correctly distributed, an executor must first ensure that all debts owed by the deceased are paid off, including taxes, mortgages or credit loans. The executor has a legal obligation to adhere to the wishes of the deceased and act in their best interest.

How can you prepare when you’re appointed executor of an estate?

Many people assume that they will have plenty of time to prepare before doing any meaningful work upon being appointed executor - especially when told while the testator is making their will. The truth is, an executor of an estate should begin work immediately in order to ensure the job is carried out properly.

To prepare yourself for being executor of an estate you should:

  • Make an accurate list of the testator’s assets and debts - this may include sums in bank or investment accounts, insurance policies, properties etc.
  • Be aware of where the original will is kept along with the newly written asset list and know how to access them.
  • Find out names and contacts of any preferred solicitors that the testator would prefer to use, and what their function is.
  • Learn about the testator’s funeral or memorial service wishes, including burial or cremation instructions.
  • Discuss the testator’s will in detail so that any potential future issues are minimised.
  • Keep a copy of all documents.

Read: What Will Happen To Your Assets If You Don’t Leave A Will?

Carrying out the above and gathering the relevant information as soon as possible will make the process of acting as executor of an estate far easier and less stressful during a time that will already be difficult enough as it is.

If you’ve recently been appointed executor of an estate and would like to receive our expert advice, or if you’d like to discuss our contentious probate services or any other of the other wide range of legal services that we offer here at Fonseca Law, please don’t hesitate to contact our team of experienced solicitors. You can call 01495 303124, e-mail or complete the online contact form.