What do I need to do as the personal representative? If you are an executor of a Will or if you are administrator where somebody has passed away without leaving a Will, you are legally responsible for administering their estate. This means that you have a number of duties in relation to their estate which may include:
- Identifying the assets in order to value the estate
- Obtaining a grant of representation
- Selling property and administering other assets
- Paying debts
- Settling inheritance tax, capital gains tax and income tax liabilities
- Preparing estate accounts
- Distributing the estate in accordance with the Will or intestacy provisions
You may be required to deal with other added complexities such as legacies to international or charitable beneficiaries, estates involving Trusts and claims against the estate by potential beneficiaries or creditors. You must also bear in mind that you can be held personally liable for any loss incurred as a result of a breach of your duty as the personal representative.
Do I have to instruct a solicitor?
No, you do not have to instruct a solicitor if you are a personal representative but many people choose to do so.
In many cases, the deceased is a close family member or friend and seeking professional advice can alleviate a great deal of stress and responsibility. Administering even simple estates can be a very time-intensive and challenging job, and to instruct a professional to deal with these matters on your behalf can be a relief and give you the necessary space to grieve.
As the personal representative, you could be held personally liable for any oversights or errors that come to light after you have distributed the estate. We recommend seeking the advice of a professional in order to mitigate the risk of potential claims by creditors, beneficiaries and HM Revenue and Customs against you in the future arising from a breach of your duty.
How can Stephensons help me?
At Stephensons our specialist probate department are able to deal with the entire process of administering the estate on your behalf. We can also simply obtain the grant of representation for you, meaning that you would administer the estate personally thereafter.
We offer fixed fee instructions rather than providing you with a quote based on the value of the estate, and we are happy to have an initial no obligation chat with you to discuss your requirements. We remain open for business during the current coronavirus pandemic, and we are able to deal with your matter remotely meaning that you do not need to attend at our offices. We appreciate that losing somebody is a very emotional process and we seek to make the process as easy as possible for you.