What is a Personal Representative?
A Personal Representative is a person who has the legal authority to administer with the Estate of someone who has died. There are two types of Personal Representative. They are:
- An Executor, named in a Will
- An Administrator, who will be appointed according to the Rules of Intestacy if they didn’t leave a Will, also known as dying intestate.
The role of a Personal Representative involves formal duties and responsibilities, in addition to a lot of administrative and legal work. Before you take on this role, you should be clear about what’s involved so you don’t commit to something you can’t fulfil.
If you don’t want to be a Personal Representative our Probate Solicitors can help you. Contact us for free initial legal advice.
Duties of a Personal Representative
Let’s look at the specific duties of a Personal Representative (Executor or Administrator) when there is a valid Will and when there no Will.
When you make a Will in England or Wales, you must name at least one Executor in the Will. You can name up to four people to be your Executors. Most people choose a family member, a close friend they trust or the solicitors firm who has drafted the Will.
As an Executor of a Will, you are legally responsible for getting the Grant of Representation, also known as the Grant of Probate, and distributing the Estate to the beneficiaries as outlined in the Will of the person who died. You can be an Executor even if you are a beneficiary of the Will.
You may not need to apply for a Grant of Probate if the value of the Estate is less than £5,000. If you do need to apply for a Grant of Probate our Probate Solicitors can do this for you.
For more detailed information see Executor Duties and Responsibilities Explained.
If someone dies without leaving a valid Will, they leave no instructions behind on who they want to deal with their Estate. The Rules of Intestacy detail who should be the Administrator and who inherits from the Estate.
The Intestacy Laws say that the Administrator should usually be the surviving husband or wife of the person who died, if they have one. If they don’t, then it should be a child of theirs. If they don’t have any children then the Rules of Intestacy outline who is next in line to be an Administrator.
An Administrator does the same job as an Executor, but they may have to apply for a Grant of Representation, also known as a Letters of Administration. This depends on the value of the Estate. Estates valued at less than £5,000 probably won’t need a Grant of Representation, but to make sure just call and speak to one of our Probate Solicitors.
Your Duties as a Personal Representative
Once you have a Grant of Representation, if you need one, you’ll need to do a number of things to administer the Estate. The steps below focus mainly on what happens when there is a Will and not all steps may apply to your Estate. If there is no Will, you’ll follow a similar process, but the Estate will be distributed in line with the Intestacy Rules.
The steps are:
- Registering the death, if it hasn’t already been done by a family member
- Arranging payment from the Estate for the funeral
- Getting the original Will
- Making sure any debts and taxes are paid, including Inheritance Tax
- Collecting any money owed to the Estate
- Accessing other finances like bank accounts, shares and pensions
- Valuing the Estate
- Distributing the Estate to beneficiaries as outlined in the Will
Should I Use a Probate Solicitor?
Really that is a decision that only you and the other Personal Representatives can make. It depends on a number of things such as:
- How much time you have to complete the Probate process
- How complicated the Estate is
- How many beneficiaries there are and whether they can be found
- How complicated the tax situation is, for example, is there any Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax or Inheritance Tax payable? If so, then the correct tax forms must be submitted to HMRC, and you can be held liable for any mistakes made.
As a Personal Representative, you are legally responsible for making sure that everything is done properly, that the correct taxes are paid on-time to avoid penalties, and that the Estate is distributed in line with the Will.
With our Full Probate Service we can deal with everything on your behalf. We’ll return the passport to the passport office, deal with house clearance, house insurance, council tax and utility bills, check for missing assets or policies and protect the Estate against unknown creditors.
Any legal fees generated for dealing with Probate can be charged back to the Estate.
If you’re not sure what’s involved call us and speak to a Probate Solicitor. We’re happy to work with you and offer the level of help and support that suits your needs.
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