What do I have to do?
A Personal Representative has five main duties:
- Ascertain the value of the deceasedís estate.
This will involve finding out and valuing all of the assets (including personal possessions) and liabilities in the estate. As a first step, the Personal Representatives should collect together all the paperwork they can find at the deceasedís home. Everything from gas and electricity bills, pension books, insurance policies, even the television licence. All the relevant companies and organisations must be informed of the death. They will all need to see the death certificate. If you are instructing solicitors to help you administer the estate, take all these papers with you to your first meeting.
- Pay any Inheritance or other tax due.
The administration of an estate will involve the need to complete either a short form Revenue and Customs account or a long form, formal account for Inheritance Tax purposes. Whether any tax is payable will depend on the value of the estate and whether there are any reliefs or exemptions available. It is also a duty of the Personal Representatives to complete any necessary income tax returns up to the date of death and pay any tax liability. The position after the date of death may also need to be clarified with the Inland Revenue.
- Obtain authority from the Probate Registry to administer the estate.
The Personal Representative (or his solicitor) must apply for a Grant of Probate (if he is an Executor) or for a Grant of Letters of Administration (if he is an Administrator). This is a formal document issued by the Probate Registry. A Grant is not always required however and we can advise whether a Grant will be required in any particular case.
The Personal Representatives should be very careful not to pay any debts or legacies out of the estate until this authority has been issued. However, they can and should take all steps necessary to secure and maintain the deceasedís property.
- Encash the assets.
Once the Grant has been issued, the Personal Representative should collect in the assets. Bank accounts should be closed and any items sold which have not been specifically dealt with in the Will, including the deceasedís personal belongings.
- Distribute the balance of the estate to those entitled (the Beneficiaries).
Once all taxes, debts and other expenses have been paid, the estate will be distributed. This will be either in accordance with the terms of the Will or, if the Personal Representative is an Administrator, in accordance with the Intestacy Rules. These rules set out a strict order of who is to benefit and what they are to receive if there is no Will. The Personal Representative must keep a full, formal account of the estate which should be produced to all the Beneficiaries and approved by them.