Tasks Facing an Executor
An executor cannot safely commence the distribution of an estate until he has successfully applied to the Court for a Grant of Probate, i.e. until the will has been proved. Usually this is a less complex and protracted process than that facing the administrator of an intestacy when applying for his Grant of Letters of Administration, but problems can arise — and do arise'— sometimes involving lengthy and complicated litigation.
There are, however, a number of important responsibilities you must be able to rely upon your executor to fulfill even before applying for his Grant of Probate. For example, it will be up to him to ensure that appropriate funeral arrangements are made, bearing in mind any special wishes you may have expressed in this regard. Right from the start, he must see that all the various assets are kept safe and prop-
erly insured. If there is a business to look after it is your executor who must keep it alive. If there is freehold or leasehold property, it is his responsibility to maintain it for as long as it is in his care.
Before he is ready to apply for his Grant of Probate your executor must prepare a detailed written valuation of all the various assets comprising your estate. How m/my of these will require the professional services of specialist valuers will depend on the knowledge and experience of the executor you have chosen. Due account having been taken of all applicable exemptions and reliefs, your estate's liability to Capital Transfer Tax will be assessed on the basis of your executor's valuation and, if his application for Grant of Probate is to succeed, his figures must be sufficiently accurate to satisfy the Inland Revenue.
Another of your executor's first tasks will be to plan how he will raise sufficient cash to cover the estate's lax liabilities and to settle those outstanding bills and claims that he deems to be properly due, rejecting those he does not. In the latter case he must be prepared to defend his actions in court, if called upon to do so. In general, however, scltling the debts is a simple matter compared with his responsibility to quantity and discharge Ihe estate's tax liabilities.
Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Capital Transfer Tax — an executor must be able to cope with all of these. Once the lax liabilities have been discharged your executor will be in a position to distribule your eslale which he must do in slricl accordance with Ihe lerms of your will. Now, as al all limes when coining into contract with your beneficiaries, there are a number of important personal qualities which — if you have chosen wisely — your executor can be relied upon lo display. Sympathy and tact towards the bereaved, firmness and impartiality in the face of conflicting family pressures — technical skills alone will seldom enable an execulor lo perform his duties in the manner you would wish.
For the whole lime thai Ihe eslale is in his care your ехеси:„ lor musl, of course, make every reasonable endeavour lo safe-: guard and maximise Ihe assets - maintaining accurate I records of all transactions - and his last duly will be to render a full account of his stewardship to the beneficiaries.
Adapted from Barclay Trust booklet, Choosing Your Executor.
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