FAQs About Estate Administration – As an Executor, what am I liable for and can I be sued?

In this first mini blog in the series of FAQs about Estate Administration, Kat King explains about the duties and liabilities of being an Executor.

As an Executor, who has been appointed by a Will, you have various duties and powers when dealing with an administration of an estate.

What are my duties?

Your duties are to:

  • collect in all of the assets;
  • collect any monies due to the estate;
  • settle the funeral account, pay Inheritance Tax (if any is payable) and any other outstanding debts;
  • distribute any legacies left by the Will; and
  • distribute the residue of the deceased’s assets.

What am I liable for? 

As an Executor, you are personally liable if the estate suffers a loss as a result of your actions.  This could happen, for example, if you:

  • do not properly protect the assets (e.g. you don’t take out house insurance for an unoccupied property);
  • distribute the estate funds before you pay off the liabilities;
  • distribute assets incorrectly; or
  • use funds in the estate for your personal use.

Will I be liable for the actions of my co-Executors? 

You are only responsible for your own actions.  However, if you were aware of your co-Executors’ misconduct and you did not prevent it, you may be held liable as well.

Can I be sued? 

Yes. There is a possibility of being sued by the beneficiaries if they did not receive what they should have.  Also creditors if the debts were not repaid, HM Revenue & Customs if you did not pay the correct taxes, and anyone else who suffered a loss as a result of your actions.

What if I made an honest mistake? 

If you acted reasonably, honestly and in good faith, you may be relieved from the liability.  Additionally, the beneficiaries, if aware of your actions, may relieve you from any liability.

Can I ask for help? 

As you can see, acting as an Executor is not an easy task. If you are not sure what to do, or would like someone to assist you, speak to a member of our Estate Administration team for support and to discuss your options.

Mogers Drewett

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