Our guide highlights the responsibilities, risks and provides information about Executor Liability insurance.
For most people being asked to been an Executor of a Will is seen as an honour, a statement of trust. However, people do not realise the hidden dangers of being an Executor under a Will in the UK – our guide highlights the responsibilities, risks and provides information about Executor Liability insurance.
The Executor of a Will has a number of duties to ensure that the estate is handled in a correct manner, these include:
* Ensure that the wishes detailed in the deceased’s Will are complied with
* Find out and record all the assets and liabilities of the Estate
* Obtain valuations of the assets at the time of death whether solely or jointly owned. This includes shares, motor vehicles and any business interests
* Make sure that the appropriate insurance policies are in force and will not expire before the estate is closed, this also includes property and vehicle insurance
* Complete all necessary tax returns for Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Income Tax and Stamp Duty Land Tax
* Complete and submit an application for the Grant of Probate. This will require a personal interview at the Probate Court
* Seek confirmation from the tax office that the estate can be distributed
* Pay all the outstanding debts of the estate
* Prepare final accounts for the beneficiaries and distribute the Estate
* If any additional assets or liabilities are discovered after the Estate has been distributed the executors will still have to deal with these, even if it is many years afterwards.
* Notify DVLA
What are the risks?
If you are an Executor of an estate, a role that most people take on without any reward, you may not realise that you are putting your own financial wealth in respect of a claim from a disgruntled beneficiary or creditor.
Where the deceased estate is well documented the above should not cause problems, but for many estate’s this is not the case.
Additionally if you have make a mistake in the way in which the estate is being finalised, you are leaving yourself open to legal action from any beneficiaries.
Claims can arise from:
* Selling property for less than it is worth because of poor valuations
* Not selling property quickly enough, causing it to be sold for less than it could have been worth
* Not giving the property to the intended person quickly enough
* Failing to insure property which gets damaged
* Paying the money to the wrong people
Occasionally, a family member or friend acting as an Executor or Trustee can betray the trust of the deceased and act in their own interests.
Where there has been a mistake made or an action or deliberate act with the result that the estate loses value, the beneficiaries could take legal action against the executors.
That means that if someone does not get what they were entitled to from the estate, they can ask a court to make the Executors pay them back with their own money.
A solicitor is not necessarily needed to finalise the estate, the Executor should be able to handle the process. It would however be advisable for the Executor to arrange Executor’s Liability Insurance, and they will have the knowledge that the premium can be paid out the estate.
Executor’s Liability insurance only covers the executors, not the professional advisers; they will have their own insurance.
Recently however due to claims against executors, some insurers are now only be prepared to provide insurance where there is a professional adviser involved.
Who can help?
We do have a panel of solicitors that can help, and for more information please email Peter@bespokerisksolutions.com
When completing the registration form please state whether you would like access to residential, probate or both, and email back to Peter@bespokerisksolutions.com.
Underwriters will validate the application form and advise you of a username and password and how to use the portal.
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