First of all lets clear up a common myth – your debts do not die with you! So where does that leave an Executor when administering your estate?
An Executor is under a duty to administer your estate in accordance with the law, this can sometimes be straight forward but often there are a number of assets and liabilities to contend with. If administered incorrectly this could leave an Executor personally liable for those mistakes.
It’s an Executors responsibility to collect in all of the assets and settle the debts from those assets. If an Executor distributes the estate without paying all of the outstanding debts, then that creditor may bring a claim against the Executors.
Assets could include property, bank accounts, insurance policies, investments and stock and shares. An asset is generally deemed to have a value but could include sentimental personal items.
It is important to consider the Trustee Act 1925 if you have been appointed as an Executor.
There is a procedure under Section 27 of the Trustee Act 1925 whereby formal legal Notice is provided to the deceased’s creditors who then have the period of 2 months to make contact and produce information about the debt. The Notices appear in the London Gazette and a local newspaper where the deceased last resided. The purpose of the Trustee Act Notices is to protect the Executors from personal liability in respect of debt owed by the deceased.
If an estate has more debt than assets and therefore there are insufficient funds to make payment to all of the creditors, the estate will be deemed to be insolvent. It is extremely important to seek legal advice in this scenario as there are specific legal rules to follow in order to ensure that all creditors are satisfied with any proposed steps.
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Being an Executor can be an onerous task and if you require any assistance with the administration of an estate please feel free to contact us for an initial chat.