1. Get organised- preparation is key when you are made an executor, if possible gather as much information as you can early on from the testator (the person whose estate you will be handling). This should include matters such as what bank accounts they have, any investments they have, where their property deeds are kept, and any insurance policies they have. It’s also advisable to come to an agreement on where all this paperwork will be kept so it can be located when needed.
2. Register the death and arrange the funeral- you have to register the death with a registrar within five days in the UK and will need a death certificate from a doctor to be able to do this. Once this is done, you can then arrange a funeral. Some people may have a preference on how the ceremony is run i.e. if it should be religious or not, make sure you ask this question when you are running through the documentation with your testator if possible. Or instructions may be included in the will.
3. Contact authorities- you will need to contact a number of official organisations such as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work and Pensions and the local council to notify them of the death. They will then be able to work out how much tax or benefits are payable, which will be claimed against the estate. It is advisable to seek legal help for this, as you could receive penalties if your calculations are wrong.
4. Settle any debts- as an executor you are in charge of settling any debts, so make sure you contact any utility companies, insurers, phone companies, landlords, mortgage providers etc to notify them of the death.
5. Don’t forget digital- given people increasingly live their lives in the digital space, you must remember to access online accounts too. These could be online banking sites, such as Paypal, sites like ebay, email and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
6. Seek advice- being an executor can be time consuming and daunting, but remember you don’t have to go through the process alone. At QualitySolicitors Hopleys GMA we offer a range of different support options, as well as a free initial consultation.