06 Jun What are my duties and responsibilities if I am an Executor to an estate
Acting as an Executor in an estate can be time consuming and demanding so it is important to appreciate at an early stage in the administration process what responsibilities which you hold as an Executor. That is particularly so as an Executor to an estate has the potential for personal liability for any negligence which they may be guilty of whilst discharging their duties as Executor. It is important an Executor acts diligently at all times and that they endeavour to complete the administration of the estate within twelve months from the date of death. It is not unusual for the administration of an estate to take longer than twelve months and where that occurs it is important to keep the Beneficiaries of the estate informed as to when it is anticipated the administration of the estate will complete.
When an Executor is selling the assets of an estate it is important that the Executor takes professional advice to ensure that the best possible price is realised for the assets upon disposal and also, where appropriate that the views of the majority of the Beneficiaries to the estate are obtained by the Executor so that the Executor can avail of the protections afforded to them under Section 50 of the Succession Act 1965. Where possible the Executor should endeavour to give effect to the wishes of the majority of the state in the case of a dispute as to the disposal of an asset.
An Executor’s appointment is under the Will of the Deceased and upon accepting that appointment the Executor becomes responsible for the administration of the estate. When administering the estate the Executor must identify the assets and liabilities of the estate, take all necessary steps to protect the estate during the course of the administration. Once the Grant has issued in the estate the Executor must gather the assets of the estate, the liabilities and thereafter provide to the Beneficiaries their inheritance/bequest under the Will. It is important for an Executor to appreciate that they do not have to accept the appointment and where they decide not to action the estate they must then renounce their executorship.
It is important to appreciate that where an Executor is deemed to have act in the administration of an estate it may not then be possible to subsequently renounce their appointment. It is important that an Executor obtains the appropriate legal advice before agreeing to act in the administration of an estate.
It is important for an Executor to appreciate that when they are handling the assets of an estate that they have a duty of care to both the Beneficiaries of the Will and also a duty to the Creditors of the estate to discharge any liability in a timely manner. An Executor must perform their duties diligently as they may be exposed to personal liability where they are found to have acted negligently in the administration of an estate. An important step for an Executor to take is to ensure that the assets of the estate are properly protecting during the course of the administration and where appropriate to put in place insurance cover. Pursuant to Section 62 of the Succession Act 1965 an Executor has up to twelve months from the date of death to distribute an estate. Any legacies which remain unpaid after a period of one year from the date of death may be eligible for interest to be paid from that date.
It is important that where practical the Executor keeps the Beneficiaries informed in respect of the progress of the administration of the estate and where appropriate to provide an account of the actions taken in the estate and what matters, if any, remain to be dealt with.
If you are appointed as an Executor in an estate and wish to obtain general advice in respect of Wills/Probate please feel free to contact Risteard Crimmins of Crimmins Howard Solicitors who will be more than happy to provide you with the appropriate advice and assistance.