Executor of a will? 5 things you need to do right now
Death has been described as ‘Britain’s last taboo’, with a 2018 survey by the Co-Operative finding that almost 1 in 4 Brits are uncomfortable talking about death.
However, if you want to ensure the wishes of your loved ones are met after they pass away, it’s important to have a conversation – especially if you’re the executor of their will. If a loved one doesn’t even have a will, here’s a guide to why they need one if they want to ensure their assets pass to their chosen beneficiary).
Indeed, research published in The Times suggests that one in five people who act as executors felt they did not manage their loved ones’ estate according to their wishes because they didn’t talk about it before their death.
Acting as the executor of a will is an important and responsible job. This infographic highlights five things you need to know.
- Ensure the will is up to date
As an executor, it’s important to remind your loved ones that they should keep their will updated.
For example, if new grandchildren are born, they may wish to add them to their list of beneficiaries and alter the division of assets accordingly. Similarly, if relatives pass away, then the will may need to be changed.
Keeping a will updated also means that your loved ones’ wishes are more likely to be granted. This is particularly true where children are concerned – read our guide to why the person responsible for children when you die might not be who you think.
- Agree on funeral arrangements
Many people have strong opinions about their funeral arrangements. So, if you’re an executor, ask the person what sort of funeral they want.
If they want to be buried, find out where they would like their final resting place to be. And, if they would prefer to be cremated, where would they like their ashes to be scattered?
You should also ask them about the funeral itself. Would they like flowers, or would they prefer donations to a charity? Do they have songs or music they would like to be played?
- Establish a full list of assets
If you have a full list of all the assets of the person whose will you are executing it will be much easier to value their estate for probate, and to pay any Inheritance Tax liability that is due.
You should liaise closely with their financial advisers, solicitors and accountants as they can help to ensure you haven’t missed anything when you come to complete the required paperwork.
Make sure you know where all important documents are kept, including the will, savings accounts, life insurance policies, investment certificates, property deeds, trusts and pensions.
- Find out how the person wants their estate to be managed
Whatever assets the individual holds, as an executor it’s useful to know their intentions for how these should be managed.
For example, if they own a property, how do they want this to be dealt with? If there are siblings, do they want to sell the property and split the proceeds, or is it to be left to one or more of them?
- Make sure you know who valuable items should be passed to
The death of a loved one can be a difficult time and emotions can often run high. Arguments about who inherits an item of sentimental value, or squabbles about who was promised a specific heirloom, can result in inter-family disputes.
As an executor, it helps you if the individual is clear about their wishes and has an inventory of all their valuable and treasured items, perhaps in a ‘letter of wishes’.
If you need estate planning advice, including tackling Inheritance Tax issues or dealing with wills/Powers of Attorney, please get in touch.
A good place to start is to arrange a meeting between executor, financial adviser and client. This can easily be hosted remotely using video conferencing and enables all parties to ensure the client’s wishes are considered.
Contact your usual HFMC Wealth contact or email email@example.com if you require further information or any assistance.