by Sarah Ashcroft

While the initial reaction to the death of a close friend or relative will clearly be shock and grief, it will not take long for Britons to realise that they also face a mountain of paperwork and legal duties, should they be appointed as the executor of the will.

Harvey Jones, writing for the Guardian, has documented the exact responsibilities executors will be handed in such tragic circumstances. He noted that there is plenty for people to get their heads around, so it’s worth doing some homework.

An executor is tasked with gathering all the relevant information and details relating to the estate of the person who has passed away. This means looking into their property, savings, accounts and shares before working out exactly how much the estate is worth.

“Being an executor is quite a responsibility. You may be flattered if somebody asks you to look after their affairs, but make sure you fully understand your responsibilities before accepting,” stated Mr Jones.

The executor will also be required to explore details of all the gifts a person made totalling more than £3,000 in the seven years before they died. The reason for this is that they may now be subject to inheritance tax, should the estate be valued at more than £325,000.

Even in those cases where tax is not due to be paid, there is still a large number of forms that must be completed. It is also worth remembering that Scotland has a different judicial system to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, so the precise requirements vary north of the border.

Dealing with the case fairly and as quickly as possible should be a priority, but the executor will always be responsible for their actions, so taking time to get it right is a must.

In fact, the executor can end up being financially liable for any errors they make during the process, making it a potentially tricky area and one in which it is often best to seek expert advice.

Lawpack has teamed up with probate experts Kings Court Trust to help executors complete their duties. We publish a DIY Probate Kit which includes an expert guidance manual and probate forms for you to do probate yourself.

If you need expert assistance, Kings Court Trust can also manage the probate process for you for a fixed price. Call them on 0800 975 7877 to get more information and free advice.

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Published on: February 18, 2013