What happens if an executor makes a mistake?
If you are a named executor in a Will, you can be held legally and financially responsible for any mistakes that you make even if they are genuine mistakes.
There is also no limit to the financial liability that an executor could face if they fail to carry out their duties correctly. This means any outstanding payments or claims that come to light after the process has been completed would need to be covered by the executor personally, not by the estate.
If the deceased did not write a Will, the person responsible for dealing with the estate is called the administrator, who is usually the next of kin. The administrator is guided by inheritance rules which are called the rules of intestacy. As with an executor, the administrator can ultimately be held accountable for any errors that are made when the estate is distributed.
What can go wrong for an executor?
The executor of an estate is the person responsible for completing a deceased person's affairs. They have many very important duties which mean that if they are not equipped for the role, things can go wrong.
Mistakes can include the following:
• Incorrectly calculating the value of the estate including assets, investment, and property.
• Paying incorrect taxes to the HMRC.
• Failing to pay any outstanding debts and final bills.
• Failing to or incorrectly distributing anything to the beneficiaries who are set to inherit from the estate.
Who can make a claim against an executor?
A beneficiary or organisation can challenge an executor's calculation if they feel that they have not received what they are entitled to from the estate.
Or, if the executor has missed one of the deceased creditors and they then demand that the debt is paid by the executor. Once the assets have been distributed to the beneficiaries, they cannot be recovered to pay any outstanding debts if they were previously overlooked by the executor. The executor as a result then becomes personally responsible for these debts.
Similarly, if HMRC suspects that the Inheritance tax has been miscalculated, then the executor will have to personally make up the difference. The executor has a duty to administer a deceased person's estate in line with the law and terms of the Will, if this isn't the case they will be challenged.
It is also the executor's responsibility to ensure that assets continue to be protected and insured until legal ownership has legally passed on. For example, if the property becomes damaged or targeted by criminals, the executor would be liable if the insurance policy was prematurely cancelled.
How can GloverPriest help?
The role of an executor can be time-consuming, complex, and very stressful, especially at a time of bereavement of a loved one. It is therefore highly advisable to instruct a probate solicitor who can take on the role of administering the estate on your behalf.
Even if you take on joint executor responsibilities in order to try and reduce the stress and time that it takes to sort things out, you would be jointly responsible for any mistakes that the other executor makes.
If you need to instruct a probate solicitor, please do not hesitate to contact us today to see how we can help you. Complete our enquiry form.