Adam Scott on Deeds of variation

The dangers of acting as Executor of a will

| Published on February 9, 2016

The dangers of acting as Executor without professional advice

Bournemouth Solicitors Humphries Kirk recognise that sometimes people like to carry out Executorship duties themselves rather than seek assistance from a Solicitor or other professional. But, is it worth the risk? The office of Executor is a personal one and if mistakes are made the Executors can be personally liable for those mistakes.

This was highlighted by a recent case where two non-professional Executors administered an estate without professional advice. When submitting the deceased’s income tax return for the period from 6 April to date of death they under reported the income and underpaid the amount of tax due. The Executors then made final distributions to the beneficiaries. When the Revenue finally checked the income tax return (a year later) they discovered that the income was underreported and issued a claim for outstanding tax and a £5,000 penalty for failing to disclose all the income.

The Executors now need to revert the beneficiaries to ask for some of their legacies back to settle the outstanding tax. The £5,000 penalty has now been quashed (due to the Revenue’s tardiness) but this case highlights how an honest mistake can prove costly. The full case can be viewed here BAILII.

HMRC are not the only potential creditors that Executors have to be wary of. The DWP, missing or unknown beneficiaries, persons with a claim against the estate and general creditors could all have a claim against an estate and if the Executors do not take the necessary steps in dealing with these then they could find themselves out of pocket.

Contact our expert solicitors in Bournemouth

Adam Scott and Geoffrey Billington, Solicitors at Humphries Kirk Bournemouth office and members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners have considerable experience in dealing with the administration of estates. If you have suffered a bereavement and would like some professional assistance then give them a call on 01202 421111.

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