The person named in a Will as the executor is responsible for the winding up of the estate when someone dies. The role can be onerous and time-consuming as well as involve numerous expenses.
Dealing with the administration of an estate can be complex. An executor cannot claim for the time they have incurred; however they are entitled to be reimbursed for the reasonable costs of the administration.
What is the role of an executor?
The executor is tasked with finalising all administrative matters, to include collecting in and valuing assets, accounting for tax, preparing estate accounts and distributing the estate to the named beneficiaries.
The job can take many months and involve extensive paperwork, particularly when an estate is sizeable or complicated. If there is a property to be sold, this can be particularly time-consuming as it will need to be cleared and marketed.
What are reasonable probate expenses?
Executors may claim reasonable expenses from the estate funds. There is no exact definition of what a reasonable expense is, but an expense that arises from properly carrying out the estate administration would usually be allowed. This generally includes the following:
• Funeral expenses
• Probate Registry fees
• Professional fees, such as a solicitor’s, surveyor’s, or valuer’s costs
• Estate agency and other fees in respect of the sale of any property
• House clearance
• Property insurance
• Maintenance costs, such as gardening or cleaning
• Other reasonable expenses such as substantial travel or postage costs
The estate will also pay all debts owed by the deceased, such as Income or Inheritance Tax and utility bills.
Who is entitled to see estate accounts?
Once the executor has finalised the estate accounts, the residuary beneficiaries are entitled to see these. They may challenge any expenses they feel are not reasonable, so it is important to keep a breakdown of the expenses that are claimed as they are incurred.
The executor is required by law to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. Failure to do so could potentially result in personal liability for any loss, including losses that arise from errors in the administration, even where the mistakes were genuine.
For executors who do not have the time to administer an estate or who are concerned about the level of liability they will be required to take on, they can seek professional help from an experienced probate lawyer who will be able to deal with the administration on their behalf. Reasonable administrative expenses in respect of this representation can be claimed from an estate.
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