Acting as an executor is a role that can be particularly daunting to take on, especially if it involves dealing with the estate of a loved one. At RNID, our Legacy Administration team are experienced in dealing with probate administration matters and are always happy to support executors and help make the process as stress free as possible.
You can contact our specialist Legacy Administration Team by email, [email protected] or call RNID’s Contact Centre on 0808 808 0123 and ask to speak to our legacy administration team.
The role of an Executor
An executor’s role is to administer an estate in accordance with the wishes expressed in the deceased’s Will. One of the first steps is to identify all of the deceased’s assets and any outstanding debts/liabilities.
This information allows the executor to obtain a ‘grant of probate’ which allows them to deal with the deceased’s estate.
Once the grant of probate is obtained, the executor can liquidate any assets, pay any outstanding debts and taxes, and then distribute the estate in accordance with the Will.
An executor must also account to the people and organisations who have been left gifts, for the way they have distributed the estate.
Anyone (other than a witness of the Will) can act as executor – even if you stand to inherit something from the Will.
What to do if you don’t want to be an executor
You should have been asked to act as an executor and have agreed to take on the responsibilities involved whilst the Will was being drafted. However, If you have been appointed as executor and you are unable to take on this role, you do not have to act as an executor. You should take legal advice if you don’t want to be an executor.
When there’s gift left for RNID
If a specific sum of money (pecuniary legacy) has been gifted, the following information would be most useful:
- The name and contact details of the Executor
- Full name of the deceased
- The last address of the deceased
- A copy of the Will
- A copy of the Grant of Probate
If RNID has been left a share of the deceased’s estate (a residuary legacy), then this can be a more complex procedure. In addition to the information above we would also welcome the following:
- If the deceased owned any property, we would be grateful for copies of any valuations. This helps us to demonstrate to our trustees that we are making proper enquiries about our legacy, which we are legally obligated to do.
- A brief breakdown of how our legacy has been calculated (the estate accounts).
- Any details as to why the deceased has chosen to benefit RNID.
We are a large charity and are held to very strict accounting standards. The Charity Commission requires us to show that we are properly entitled to every legacy which is so kindly left to us. The easiest way for us to do this is for us to ask executors for a copy of the deceased’s Will, Grant of Probate, and a simple breakdown of how our legacy has been calculated in case this information is requested by our auditors. We ask this of every executor and mean no disrespect to you by this request- it is simply so that we can fulfil our legal obligations.
Costs to being an executor
Acting as an executor of an estate should not cost you financially (as any expenses incurred are a testamentary expense and are paid for by the estate). However, this role could take up a considerable amount of your time.
It is important that you think carefully before accepting the role of an executor as dealing with matters after the death of a loved one or friend can be complicated and is always time consuming. It can also be difficult to deal with practical matters if you are struggling emotionally with the sadness of bereavement.
Organisations that can help you
The organisations listed below can help with practical matters, or you may wish to pay a solicitor to deal with the estate for you – contact the Law Society for help in choosing a solicitor.
Tell Us Once
Tell Us Once is a service available throughout most of England, Wales and Scotland which allows you to inform the government of a death just once to allow for the deceased’s documents to be cancelled.
The Institute of Legacy Management (ILM)
The Institute of Legacy Management (ILM) offers free expert advice and a support network for all those working in legacies and executing estates.
The Law Society
The Law Societies of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are the representative bodies for solicitors in the relevant countries.
Citizens Advice Bureau
Citizens Advice is a national network of advice centres that offer free, independent and confidential legal advice.
There are regional Probate service offices throughout England and Wales. Contact your solicitor or local government office to locate your nearest service.
For more information on dealing with an estate in England and Wales contact:
0300 123 1072
In Scotland you can contact:
0300 244 4000
In Northern Ireland you can contact:
028 9072 4678
Contact our legacy team
If you have any questions you can email us at: [email protected] or call us on 0808 808 0123.