The Risks Involved in Acting as an Executor of a Will

Executors have many duties.  If they cannot carry these out correctly, because they do not appreciate their scope, they may be personally liable at considerable cost.

Executors who cause loss to estates are liable to beneficiaries for depleting assets.  Lay Executors may unwittingly make mistakes when winding up an estate, and beneficiaries may thereby suffer loss.

Executors’ liability is not limited to the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.  For example, the deceased may have been a tenant of premises.  An Executor would be responsible for payment of future rents.

Executors are responsible for completing self-assessment tax returns during the administration of the estate, and for payment of assessed tax.

Executors may be personally liable to creditors of a bankrupt beneficiary, if they pay the beneficiary direct and cannot recover it from him.

Executors must keep accurate accounts of their dealings with an estate, and beneficiaries are entitled to inspect them.

What if there is a creditor of the estate but the Executor is unaware of their existence?  Publishing statutory notices will usually protect Executors.

What if executors omit beneficiaries from distribution because they are not aware of their existence or whereabouts?  Insurance or protection from the Court may be available to Executors in this difficult position.

It is complicated and it’s best for executors to involve expert solicitors to administer the estate.  Alternatively, appoint your solicitors as executors when you prepare your Will.