Executors beware – mistakes can be costly

Many of us will act as the executor of the estate of a parent or spouse at some point in our lives, in what is usually a reasonably straightforward, if paperwork-heavy, task.

Acting as executor of a Will requires you to inform banks, councils, utility providers and other parties of the death, settle any debts, file an Inheritance Tax return where needed, apply for a Grant of Probate and distribute the estate to the beneficiaries.

Most of the time, this is a low-risk undertaking, with the greatest danger being that of running into administrative headaches.

However, taking on the role of executor sometimes brings considerable financial risk.

Executors can be personally liable when things go wrong. Put simply, you can be sued if you make a mistake, or anything goes awry in the distribution of the estate or the settlement of any debts.

The scope for things to go wrong is ever-increasing. The move away from the nuclear family and the rise of increasingly complex family relationships mean the risk of inadvertently failing to identify a beneficiary is increasing all the time.

Of course, you might be able to recover wrongly distributed funds from other beneficiaries. But if they refuse, doing so might require expensive legal action. If they are bankrupt, it can potentially be impossible to recover the funds.

If you have concerns about acting as the executor of an estate because you believe there is a risk of getting things wrong or you simply don’t have time to deal with the heavy administrative burden, contact us today.

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