Lifting the burden of estate administration


Being asked to be an executor of a loved one’s last will and testament is a great honour – however, it can be far from straightforward. Here, Senior Adviser Richard Rochford looks at what managing an estate entails, and why some people turn to a professional for help.

Although it is a great privilege to be entrusted with a loved one’s Will after they have died, it is easy to find it a confusing or daunting prospect. Often, the role of executor is taken by a close family member or friend, but they don’t always realise what the job entails. It isn’t just a matter of making sure your loved one’s last wishes are granted – being an executor also comes with an array of financial and legal responsibilities.

When it gets complicated…

As a Will executor, you are responsible for the correct distribution of a deceased person’s estate. This means you must correctly value the assets and debts, calculate Income Tax for the year of death and the period post-death, and set up any trusts that may be in a Will.

A multitude of complications and delays can arise when dealing with an estate, such as discovering missing beneficiaries, dealing with Will disputes or coming across foreign shares or funds. Some estates have to pay Inheritance Tax – this must be paid before the court will issue a Grant of Probate of Letters of Administration.

Furthermore, complicated family structures and ‘blended’ families (where one or both parties have children from previous relationships) can increase the chances of a Will being disputed. Research shows that nearly a third of all couples bringing up children have a child from an earlier relationship in their family.1 Furthermore, 12.6 million people in the UK would challenge an inheritance if they disagreed with the division of their loved one’s assets.2

You’ll also need to check whether the deceased person was mis-sold PPI or any credit or loan. With the 29 August deadline for PPI compensation claims rapidly approaching, those handling the estate need to be rigorous in checking if such a claim exists. The overwhelming majority of respondents to a recent survey didn’t know that it is possible to claim mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) on behalf of a deceased relative.3

Seeking professional advice

For many, the responsibility of managing a deceased loved one’s affairs during an already emotionally draining time can be incredibly daunting. Add to that the pressure of being personally liable for any errors or misdistribution, and it’s easy to see why many people turn to a professional for help.

If you have any concerns, it might be wise to engage the services of a suitably qualified professional to deal with the estate administration on your behalf. Professional estate administration providers have the expertise to navigate the challenges and ensure that an estate is properly dealt with, and can help you understand what needs to be done following a bereavement. They can also take care of the estate administration on your behalf, lifting the legal and financial burden of handling a loved one’s estate.

If you are dealing with an estate or would like to discuss appointing a professional estate administrator to deal with your own estate when the time comes, seek advice.

1 Aviva, Family Finance report, 2014
2 Direct Line Life Insurance, 2019
3 Which? PPI misconceptions survey, 2019

Please note: Will writing involves the referral to a service that is separate and distinct to those offered by St. James’s Place. Wills and Trusts are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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Author: Richard Rochford
Author: Richard RochfordSenior Adviser