Although many people make a will to ensure their affairs are taken care of after they die, figures show that only 37 per cent of adults in Northern Ireland have made one. There are a high percentage of people who don’t make a will and think that even without one, their assets will go to their nearest and dearest. Which is why it is important to prepare a Will and make sure your affairs are in order to ensure your wishes to be fulfilled.
When someone dies, it is important to find out firstly, if they have made a will and secondly, if so, who they have appointed as executor?

An executor is the most important role in administering an estate. As an executor, the main purpose of the role is to collect and get in the estate of the deceased and administer it according to law.
Generally, the executor will instruct a solicitor but, in any case, the executor must deal with the following matters:

The executor has the responsibility to organise the funeral, however if the executor is not a family member, often the family would rather deal with this matter. It remains the Executor’s responsibility to ensure that funeral expenses are paid out of the estate money.

It is part of the role of an executor to provide a full inventory of the assets which make up the deceased’s estate.

Assume Control:
This entails making sure all the relevant documents are located, such as bank statements, title deeds, share documents etc. and dealing with any immediate concerns (for example, insuring the house and providing for the care of pets). Some of the documents which form part of the estate may need to be held in a bank for security reasons, and any payment for this may come out of the estate.

Preservation of the Estate:
While collecting the estate, it is important that the executor makes their best efforts to protect the value of assets. For example, they should not deliberately sell a house for much less than it is worth.

Grant of Probate:
The executor applies for the grant of probate from the court, which includes sending the original will to the court. The Grant will allow the executor to close bank accounts and sell any property or transfer assets to beneficiaries.

Collection of Estate:
The collection of the estate includes closing accounts, such as bank accounts, electricity, Wi-Fi etc, and ensuring all outstanding bills are paid. This may include shares, which can be maintained as part of the estate or sold- this is up to the beneficiaries to decide.

Payment of Debt:
This does not include secured loans (i.e. mortgages) but other debts must be paid off from the estate promptly. This could include unpaid bills, credit cards etc. for example.

Distribution of the Estate:
The executor must distribute the estate according to the will and ensure that all beneficiaries who are entitled to payment receive what they are owed.

Have the conversation now and appoint the executor of your Will and be reassured that he or she will ensure that all your final wishes are followed and that your loved ones are looked after as per your requests.

Anne Wilson is an Associate in the private client team of McKees and can be contacted on 028 9023 2303 or at
Fiona Brown Communications is a vibrant PR and digital communications consultancy connecting brands and businesses with their target audiences.
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