Ask the Experts March 2012

Q: My father died many years ago and my mother dealt with all the financial matters. My mother has recently passed away, and I have found out that I am the executor of her will. What does this mean?

A: Karen Witter – partner in our Private Client deaprtment says…  When somebody dies, there are many things to sort out, and it can be a very distressing and confusing time.  Firstly, you will need to obtain the death certificate. In addition, there will be funeral arrangements to make. Sometimes the person who  has died may have made specific requests in his or her will about special funeral wishes, so it can be a good idea to check the copy of the will before you make the funeral arrangements.

Being an executor means that your mum wanted you to be the person to sort out her financial affairs, and make sure that the wishes in her will were carried out. You will need to get together as much information as you can about her bank accounts, house, car, life insurance etc. Depending on the value and nature of her assets, this can sometimes be complicated but there are people who can help you.

You then need to check whether a grant of probate is required, and a soliciotor will usually be able to tell you this based on what you know about the assets.  The assets will need to be collected in, and any debts she may have had will need to be paid. After that, you will be the person who distributes the left over funds to the people named in the will.

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