EXECUTOR OF A WILL - DUTY OF EXECUTORS

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Grant of Probate

A grant of probate is a document issued by a Probate Registry which is a part of the High Court, upon application by an executor of a will and entitles the executor to deal with the assets of the deceased in accordance with his expressed wishes. Executors are usually solicitors, banks or accountants but may be members of the public especially trusted friends or relatives. Usually executors who are not professionally qualified instruct a solicitor to deal with wills and probate matters on their behalf due to the amount of paperwork involved and to reduce the possibility of complaints or legal action by beneficiaries who may be unhappy about the way in which an executor deals with matters.

Executors Duties

Wills and probate matters can be complex especially the application for the grant which requires a thorough assessment of the assets and finances of the deceased. The first steps to be taken by the proposed executor of a will involves assessment of all debts and liabilities and valuation of all assets including bank accounts and real property Once this has been carried out a proposed executor in person must make application to the local registry for a grant and at that time must submit an account showing all assets and liabilities for consideration by the capital taxes office as there may be liability to pay tax on the estate if the net value exceeds current limits. The proposed executor is then called to the registry and is required to swear an affidavit which contains basic details of the deceased and the death together with a figure for the net value of the estate. The original will must be annexed to this affidavit. The application is then considered by the registry which issues the grant. In due course the capital taxes office will consider the executors account and may ask further questions before indicating that they are satisfied with the figures. If the value of the estate exceeds the current limit then tax will be payable and if in due course the figures change following liquidation of the assets then it may be necessary to submit an amended account.

Realisation and Distribution of Assets

Once the grant has been issued it gives the executor the legal right to deal with the assets of the estate in accordance with the wishes of the deceased. This may involve the sale of property, the liquidation of shares and calling in the balance on bank accounts. Once the assets are realised and all debts including tax are paid the executor must distribute the residual estate to the beneficiaries. Executors must be extremely cautious about the way in which they deal with matters and must remember that they have a responsibility for tax and a responsibility to the beneficiaries.

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