Being an Executor is a serious responsibility
If you have been appointed as an executor in a person’s Will, you should ensure you know exactly what you are up for before you launch into administering an estate.
Executors of estates have an important role which carries legal responsibilities, and you will be taking on a level of personal risk if you act. For example, you will be personally liable to ensure that a deceased person’s tax affairs are correctly sorted and up to date, otherwise you may personally need to pay any tax debt owed by the deceased or the estate. You may also be personally liable if a successful claim is brought against the estate and you have distributed the estate too soon.
Safeguard yourself against risk
Executors are recommended to seek legal advice to guide them through their legal obligations and responsibilities at the outset and on an ongoing basis during the administration of a deceased estate. This is important to ensure not only that they are legally doing the right thing but also to protect themselves from personal liability.
An executor is typically allowed to reimburse themselves for legal advice and legal assistance they receive in the course of the estate administration so you are not out of pocket in safeguarding your interests.
We can help you stay off risk
At Estate First Lawyers, we can provide you with the legal advice and guidance you need as an executor. At our first consultation we will discuss this and other aspects of the estate administration that you might need help with. Contact us to find out more or to make an appointment today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it necessary to have an executor in a Will?
An executor becomes the ‘legal personal representative’ of a person on their death and effectively steps into the deceased person’s shoes from the moment they die. This means they inherit the rights, but also the responsibilities and obligations, of the deceased person. They are also charged with administering the deceased person’s estate, which includes ensuring they have the last valid Will (potentially obtaining a Grant of Probate), calling in the assets of the deceased person, paying any debts and fulfilling any legal obligations of the deceased, ensuring all tax affairs of the deceased and the estate are met and distributing the estate to beneficiaries (link to dealing with beneficiaries).
Do I have to take on the role of executor?
If you have been appointed as executor of a Will, you are automatically entitled to administer the estate, including obtaining a Grant of Probate. However, you do not have to take on the role and can renounce your appointment. It is important that you understand the role and your options in this regard before you renounce and we recommend you seek legal advice before renouncing or commencing to administer the estate.
What sort of risks does an executor have?
An executor, as a fiduciary, has the responsibility to administer an estate properly and in the interests of the beneficiaries. The risks associated with being an executor of an estate include being personally liable for certain actions, or for not taking necessary actions, in administering an estate. If an executor acts improperly, then they can be exposed to paying out of their own pocket to fix any errors, including the costs of others, such a legal fees. It is important that executors obtain advice from specialists (legal and accounting) to protect themselves from these risks.
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