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As an executor, am I personally liable?

The short answer is ‘yes’.  

Recent research suggested that 96% of executors did not realise that they were legally and financially responsible for the accurate administration of a deceased person’s estate.  This typically involves applying for the Grant of Probate, dealing with all aspects of the estate and distributing the assets to those entitled.

Both professional and non-professional Executors are subject to a statutory ‘duty of care’ under the Trustee Act of 2000, meaning they must act in the best interests of the estate and beneficiaries.  Consequently, they can be held financially and legally liable for any mistakes made in handling the deceased's assets.

Executors are responsible for valuing the assets in the estate, tracking accounts, paying debts and taxes and distributing what's left of the estate to the beneficiaries.  In order to carry out their duties, Executors need to have a copy of the Will along with relevant financial information on the deceased's holdings.  It is important that they keep a clear record of each step they take during the process, especially if Inheritance Tax is payable on the estate.  This way, there is a clearly documented audit trail should any questions need to be answered at a later date.

Estate administration is a long and complex legal process, so expect it to take months rather than weeks.  As each estate is different, it is almost impossible to tell how long the process will take without knowing more about the specific nature of the estate.  An ‘average’ estate takes 9-12 months to administer from start to finish.  

Kings Court Trust is one of the UK’s leading estate administration specialists.  They have helped thousands of families deal with the estates of their loved ones and have distributed over £1 billion in inheritance.

Tom Curran, Chief Executive at Kings Court Trust, said: “Estate administration can be a daunting prospect to deal with, especially as most families will still be coming to terms with the loss of someone close to them.  That’s why our service is designed to make the process as straightforward and stress free as possible. 

Every action, decision and service we offer goes some way to achieving our purpose – helping families move on. We always recommend that you seek professional legal advice before administering an estate and we offer free guidance with no obligation, so please contact us if you have any questions.”

Kings Court Trust can provide a fixed price quote in just a few minutes and help you understand your options. Call us on 0300 303 9000 or visit kctrust.co.uk for more information.