Your legal questions answered

14 April 2015

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This month we are starting a new column where local legal experts from Cameron Jones Hussell and Howe solicitors answer the questions being faced by Port Talbot residents.
Cameron Jones Hussell and Howe solicitors have been providing legal advice in a variety of areas for more than 75 years and their legal team want Magnet readers to feel free to take the opportunity to ask them a question.

This month they look at what’s involved in being an executor of a will:

Q HAVE YOU BEEN ASKED TO BE THE EXECUTOR OF A WILL?
A You may have been told that acting as an Executor is easy. You just fill in a few forms and send them off to the Probate Registry. You don’t need the help or advice of a Solicitor.
Seeing a Solicitor will just involve unnecessary expense. You might like to think again.
However accepting an appointment to act as an Executor is a serious responsibility.
Among other things Executors must carry out include:

Comprehensive enquiries as to the nature and extent of the deceased’s assets
Obtain accurate date of death figures.
Make detailed enquiries as to the deceased’s debts and liabilities.
Prepare an Inland Revenue Account.
Maintain or renew any necessary insurance policies.
Swear an oath that the assets and liabilities of the Deceased have been correctly identified and accounted for.
Possibly make enquiries about the deceased’s tax affairs.
Interpret the Will in case of any ambiguity and work out who the beneficiaries are.
Deal with disputes between beneficiaries including legal proceedings.

Once you have received the Grant of Probate it will be your PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY to pay the debts of the deceased, to pay any tax due, to ensure that the assets of the deceased do not suffer loss or damage and to account to the beneficiaries for their entitlement. If you fail to do these things properly and carefully you could be personally liable. Failure to discover a debt due from the deceased and pay it, for example, could mean that you have to pay it yourself.
You would also have to deal with any Court Proceedings that may be brought against the Estate. You may find for example that the Will is challenged by someone on the grounds that the Testator lacked testamentary capacity or was under undue influence or simply made a mistake. Wills can also be challenged by certain relatives and dependants under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
It makes sense to consult a solicitor If, as Executor, you instruct a solicitor to extract the Grant of Probate and act in the administration of the Estate then:
You satisfy the requirement that an Executor or Trustee takes proper advice. Any legal expenses are paid for by the estate. You will receive professional help and guidance on all aspects of the matter. Executors are appointed by Will.
If a person dies without a will, it may be necessary for the next of kin to apply for what is called Letters of Administration. Once appointed, an Administrator is in the same position as an Executor and the above comments apply equally to Administrators as to Executors.
If you have a question for the legal team email to reception@cjhh.com and we will print your reply
Or contact
Cameron Jones Hussell & Howe
1-5 Grove Place
Port Talbot
SA13 1HX
01639 885261

Or go to their website

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