Executing the Will

Executor of a Will's Checklist

If you are acting as executor then it is likely that your involvement may go on for several months and possibly even years.
Part of an executor’s duties include drawing up some simple accounts providing all the details of how the deceased’s estate has been divided. This information will also be needed to enable any necessary tax return to be completed. The executor must also:

  • Inform next of kin, close family and any potential heirs of the death and that you are an executor.
  • Appoint a solicitor.
  • Obtain copy of will and carry out instructions within.
  • If necessary, register the death and assist with funeral arrangements.
  • Ensure assets are listed and if necessary made secure, for example, locating house keys and locking property.
  • Gather together vital paperwork, address book of deceased, wills, death certificate and any certified copies, personal effects such as handbag or wallet.
  • Gather all financial paperwork such as cheque books, bank statements, paying in books, credit card details, building society books, mortgage details and any cash.
  • Locate life insurance policies and paperwork such as membership forms, shares and stocks, bonds and pension information.
  • Find all household bills including those that are unpaid.
  • Collect together all tax records. At this stage do not dispose of things such as business related paperwork, tax records, wage slips etc even if they appear to be out of date.
  • If the deceased person is a business owner you will need all paperwork relating to the business including VAT records and accounts.
  • Gather details of professional advisors such as accountants, solicitors etc.
  • Check if probate is needed. When someone dies, a person must deal with their estate by collecting in money owed, paying debts and dividing the estate. In probate, a legal document is issued to a person to allow them to do this. As executor you may carry out this role. This document is issued by the probate registry and it is known as a Grant of Representation. If you receive this document make sure you have several certified copies.
  • Complete a tax return if needed.
  • With advice, consider inheritance tax issues.
  • Pay off any outstanding debts.
  • If you need to locate potential heirs or creditors then advertise in local/national papers.
  • Distribute the contents of the will.

Executors should set up an account solely for the purpose of dealing with the estate so that any money paid to the estate is easy to see. If you have no experience of the preparation of accounts then you have a duty to delegate this task to someone with the requisite experience.