The primary duty of a personal representative is to apply for Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration depending on whether they are an executor or an administrator. This is necessary because assets are frozen when someone dies, and a grant is needed for the personal representative to be able to manage the assets. In either case, the grant signifies the personal representative’s acceptance of their position.
In addition to administering the estate, the personal representative must also ensure any necessary funeral arrangements are made and the funeral is paid for. If the personal representative is not an immediate family member, funeral arrangements are often made by the family member and the invoice is passed to the personal representative to arrange payment. Unless the estate includes a pre-paid funeral plan (see links below) the personal representative will be entitled to be reimbursed for reasonable funeral expenses from the estate.
Personal representative’s other core duties
The fundamental duty of personal representatives is to act with “due diligence” and to act only in the interests of the estate rather than their own interests. In practice this breaks down into the following categories:
- Establishing the value of the estate’s assets and liabilities, and collating them for purposes of the HMRC account – essentially ensuring that any outstanding tax debts such as income tax or Capital Gains tax are settled.
- Calculating the inheritance tax due (if any) and obtaining funds to pay the tax
- Paying any private debts which may owed by the estate
- Preparing the accounts, tax return and tax deductions for the beneficiaries
- Distributing the assets to those entitled to them