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When a person draws up a Will they will name one or more individuals as an executor. Hopefully the ‘chosen one’ will be asked beforehand about this designated role as when the individual passes away, the executor(s) will become responsible for the administration of the estate, which can be no mean feat. Any budding executor should think carefully about whether they want the responsibility.

This is an important role and the tasks associated with being an executor can vary greatly and include:

  • Collecting all money, possessions, property and other assets
  • Paying off debts owed
  • Sorting out the payment of inheritance tax, if applicable
  • Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.

As you can imagine not all these duties end up being straightforward and executors can often face difficulties when carrying out their role. A very common cause for sticking points that I frequently come across involves dealing with the property left behind. The main reason for this is that the property (or properties) is often the asset with the highest value.

Top tips to avoiding a property dispute as an executor

Nobody wants to start a dispute unless they have legitimate reason to do so but there is no doubt that disputes are on the rise. It’s always best practice, not to mention more cost-effective, to put things in place to avoid a dispute before it arises.

From the cases I have dealt with, here are my top tips of the things you can do to ensure a smooth estate administration:

  1. Where possible get the written consent of all beneficiaries to an agreed sale price if selling large assets such as a property/house.
  2. Ensure that if there are any personal items in the property that these are offered to beneficiaries before being sold and if sold/given to charity that the beneficiaries consent if possible.
  3. If the property is being sold on the open market through an estate agency approach 2 or 3 for a valuation and an estimate of their fees before proceeding. These will ultimately have to be deducted from the estate.
  4. As soon as you obtain the grant of probate notify all utility companies and other organisations where direct debits may apply so that debts do not continue to accrue that are payable by the estate
  5. Do not distribute the estate too quickly even if you think everything has been dealt with – we recommend waiting a year in case anyone intends to bring a claim against the estate.
  6. Keep a clear record of all credits and liabilities i.e. “accounts” so that these can be produced to HMRC and the beneficiaries if anyone wants to see proof.

To speak to me or a member of our expert Litigation team about a Will dispute or probate dispute, call us on 0343 507 5151. We will give you a fair and professional assessment on your issue and discuss the best potential way of resolving it. You can also email us at enquiries@gorvins.com or fill in our online contact form.