I wonder if you have been or are an Executor for an estate. Most people will experience some degree of involvement in the Probate process at some point in their lives – for many it is the death of a parent or sibling. In simple terms Probate is the accounting for the value of an estate (upon death) of an individual. This involves proving his or her identity, residency and a full account of assets and liabilities.
To say that Probate can be burdensome is an enormous understatement. The Executor of an estate is responsible for the proper, full and fair accounting of the estate to HMRC, after all inheritance tax may apply. As a reminder, failure to to do properly can have the consequence of a custodial sentence. So it is not a task to be taken lightly.
Just stop to think for a moment. If you had died yesterday who would be responsible for being your Executor? you have of course clarified precisely who this is in your Will right? (see my guide to Wills). Anyhow back to the morbid thought of you departing yesterday… just think of all those statements, accounts, online accounts, offline accounts… have you kept your records up to date? Whether its a Bank or Amazon, Sky or a subscription to your favourite magazine, your tiddly share holding in BP or an substantial portfolio… where is it all? and all those passwords? As you may now begin to imagine, the list of “stuff” that you have can be daunting… so you pay your AA membership monthly, but why is there also a Green Flag certificate and an RAC one in your desk drawer filed under “car”. What do you do about loans or creditors? and where precisely are the Deeds for the house?
I’m sure you get the picture. Of course it would be easy to say – oh I’ll sort this out when I’m 80, but who knows how long any of us has left? If you have any life assurance you have already acknowledged this fact to yourself. So it is time to start getting prepared. A good financial planner will hold a lot of this sort of information, but many do not and even my own very thorough assessment of a clients situation is bound to have some gaps for some of these things. So without any panic, can I encourage you to think and begin taking action on this…. and by the way, if you live alone, who has the key to get in?
Dominic Thomas – Solomons IFA