What is an executor?
An executor can be a family member, friend or institution (e.g. solicitor or bank). The testator appoints who they want to administer their estate upon their death in their Will. The executor has the legal authority to handle the deceased’s assets and apply for probate. As well as the responsibility of distributing the estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will.
In the case where the deceased left no will, the law dictates who is entitled to become the “Administrator”. The administrator is decided by the “Rules of Intestacy”. These rules place the next of kin into an order of priority. The role of administrator will fall to the closest next of kin that is willing to act. The administrator is the equivalent to an executor and has the same role and responsibilities to perform.
What is the role of an executor of an estate?
It is the executor’s job to ensure that the administration of the estate is undertaken according to the law. They must also follow the wishes in the Will. The executor is responsible for identifying and protecting the estates assets, obtaining a grant of probate and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries.
What is an executor’s expense?
There are some unavoidable expenses that come along with the administration. Most of these expenses are small amounts but can add up. For example, recorded delivery, valuations for assets etc.
An executor may claim from the estate reasonable costs incurred during the administration. These are costs that they have paid out of their own pocket. The executor must be able to show that these expenses have benefited the estate and its beneficiaries.
There is no set list of what is or isn’t an executor’s expense. This can leave some costs in a grey area of whether or not they are acceptable. It can sometimes be left up to the executors and beneficiaries to agree between themselves what the executor can be reimbursed for.
There are some standard costs involved in administrating an estate. These costs can include but are not limited to:
- Utilities to the property
- General maintenance for the property. (For example, a gardener to maintain the exterior appearance)
- Professional valuations for the deceased’s assets
- Professional clearing and cleaning costs for the property
- Unoccupied property insurance
Mileage expenses in particular circumstances can be claimed from the estate. Mostly if they have had to travel great distances to perform their role. However, this type of expense can be challenge by the beneficiaries.
When can an executor’s expense be rejected?
A beneficiary can query an executor’s expense claim if it appears that the expense was not for the benefit of the estate or its beneficiaries. They can also query expenses that the executor has provided no evidence for.
An executor should keep clear records of what payments they have made. As well as collecting receipts and invoices which can be used as evidence in the estate accounts. Taking these steps is good practice in general and ensures that the executor is not left out of pocket by performing their role.