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Are you an executor?
Do you even know if you are?

15/08/2019

You’ve been appointed executor – but do you know what key discussions you should be having with the person who asked you?

While there is still time:

Talk openly

If you are going to be managing your parents’ estate, talking about distributing their possessions and the sale of their home is undoubtedly going to be painful – and therefore something you can easily put off for another time. It’s a conversation that fills you with dread – just as it may them, too. Yet, careful discussion will relieve the onus on you, the executor, when it comes to telling family members what they are, or are not, receiving in the will, according to the willholder’s wishes.

Establish the specifics

Maybe you’ve been nominated to manage the distribution of a neighbour’s affairs once they’ve passed. Though you are not immediate family, they have entrusted you with immense responsibility. You have a neutral part to play, but it is by no means a simple role. It would therefore be prudent to establish the details of what is to be bequeathed to whom, to save awkward disagreements when loved ones discover they are not being left what they had assumed they would be.

Ask questions upon questions

To spare distress and to ensure wishes are met, professionals advocate executors address the following things with their parents:

What is the full value of their estate?

A recent industry study concluded that almost half of executors did not know the full value and whether they would be able to manage it.

Is there a complete list of their assets?

Your parents’ estate will be valued more accurately for probate if you know exactly what they own. 

  • Details can be uploaded to the VaultWill system and then revised accordingly. It is important they involve you when there are changes to their financial circumstances.
  • VaultWill can assist with these preparations, helping lower overall probate costs including those of probate solicitors. 
Have they updated their wills?

New grandchildren, for example, need to be included in the wills if they are to receive a specific sum of the estate. If there has been a family fallout, have they updated the wills to reflect this? Again, the less unpleasant surprises the better.

Do they have their paperwork in order?

All too often, looking after the paperwork falls to one person, with the other having no or very little idea of where the following documents are kept in the home:

  • passwords
  • login details
  • policy/account numbers
  • property deeds
  • pensions
  • trusts
  • the will itself

With only one person managing the home affairs, a great many people experience unnecessary additional stress during their immediate loss. What if you were executor to one parent rather than two? Or to two different families? Would you know where to find the respective documents pertaining to the house? It can very quickly become very complicated, just at the time when you do not need the additional burden.

  • VaultWill prevents such a scenario arising. The system allows you to upload all financial information, and documents if you wish, to a secure and trusted online platform.
  • Assets can be updated at any time, giving you full control over what you would like to be centralised.
  • Storing everything in one place paves the way for smoother estate administration and, consequently, less legal expense.
  • Executors will have read-only access once the VaultWill accountholder has passed on or become incapacitated but not before.
How do they want their estate managed?

You need to consider, as a family, how your parents’ home is going to be split, if it has not already been specified in the will. If there are siblings, does one have sole responsibility of selling it and dividing the money? It is beneficial to all to have this conversation so there are no unpleasant surprises when the time comes.

Allocating individual possessions

For possessions such as antiques, heirlooms and jewellery, it is beneficial to all for parents to have an inventory outlining who is to receive what; better still, to openly talk about this with the family so everyone knows what to expect or even for siblings to agree (to disagree). If non-family members have been gifted, it helps to know this beforehand.

Do they have a digital legacy?

If you want to access your parents’ phone or computer to retrieve photos, for example, you will need to know their login details and passwords. You don’t automatically inherit one’s digital legacy; and no one wants to endure a court case just to do so. 

  • By keeping details such as these on the VaultWill platform, and updating them as needed, you will always have access to your loved ones’ memories.
Would they like to have a separate digital executor?

Should they wish to appoint a separate executor for this purpose:

  • VaultWill allows the storage of this executor’s account contact details in the same way as it does for the main executor, who looks after the physical assets.
The funeral

You may feel confident your parent wanted a cremation, but your sibling insists otherwise. If the funeral plans are stipulated in the will, there can be no argument over the integral aspect of such an important day. Do they want hymns or modern-day music that was personal to them? Did they carry a donor card? If you’ve never had the conversation, or it’s not been formalised in their will, their wishes will not be respected. 

  • Sensitive information of this sort can be recorded on the VaultWill system to spare loved ones potential upset.
Is the executor going to be paid?

As the child, you may not feel comfortable receiving payment for managing your parents’ estate, particularly if you are set to inherit; however, for those executors who are not beneficiaries, it is only fair for them to receive from the will. Being an executor is a responsibility which demands time and effort.  

VaultWill helps you protect your legacy. Read our case studies to see how we have given families peace of mind when preparing for the inevitable.

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