I’ve been made an executor of a will – what should I do first?

May 12, 2014 2:11 pm

What do I do first as an executor
The responsibilities of an executor are varied; understanding exactly what needs to be done and in what order can be a daunting prospect.

If you are registering someone’s death, you need to contact his or her GP within five days to obtain a valid medical certificate.  You can then register the death and obtain a Death Certificate. It is vital to get several copies of the death certificate to ensure that you can issue them to life insurance, pension companies, banks and employers.  Other personal information that you will need include the deceased’s NI and NHS number, date and place of birth, date of marriage if applicable, and tax reference number.

The executor must also check that they hold an up to date copy of the deceased’s will. The will stipulates who is entitled to act as executor, so it is important to check this out.

Although one of the first duties of an executor is to organise the funeral, it is often the case that family members or close friends have already arranged this but an executor should try and ensure that arrangements are in-line with the wishes of the deceased.

Following this, the executor must evaluate the deceased’s possessions, property and debts and their attached value. This assessment is used to inform the completion of a return of information or account for Inheritance Tax purposes. For more information on completing this form, visit the HMRC website: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/inheritancetax/iht-probate-forms/find-right-forms.htm.

The executor of a will does not have to supply beneficiaries with details of the contents of the will. In fact, a will only becomes a public document once a grant of probate has been taken out. At this stage, beneficiaries can access the details for themselves. However, executors normally choose to pass on this information as part of their role.