Wednesday, 15 October 2014

On Being an Executor

Oct 2014 - Being an Executor

This briefing is produced as part of the Ageing Well in Aylesbury Vale Project by AVDC’s Lynne Maddocks. Contact on 01296 585364 or for more information.

If someone has appointed you as an executor for their will, you may be flattered but also wondering what you will have to do. It can involve a lot of work and responsibility, which may go on for months or even years, so think carefully before agreeing. You can act as an executor even if you stand to inherit something from the will. The person making the will can appoint up to four executors (the standard is two).
Being an executor is a role for life – if any claims come up in the future, you will have to deal with them and you must carry out your duties correctly. You cannot step down once you have started carrying out any actions as an executor. If you have accepted the role but change your mind, talk to the person who has appointed you about your decision as they’ll need to change their will. If you change your mind after the person has died, write to the Probate Registry who will ask you to complete a formal document called a letter of renunciation.

Solicitors and other advisers can also help you to carry out your role as an executor. You can find a solicitor who specialises in this and other areas by searching the Law Society website, or calling its office -  020 7320 5650

Local advice may be available from:
Age UK Bucks 01296 431911
Society of Later Life Advisers 0845 303 2909
Citizen Advice Bureaux:
     Aylesbury 0844 499 4714
     Buckingham 0844 245 1289
     Thame 08444 111 444

Checklist of an executor’s key duties
  • If necessary, register the death. Consider how many copies of the death certificate to order, as they cost less if you ask for them when registering the death. Unless you are employing a solicitor to deal with the estate, you’ll need one for each company that holds money or other items of value that belonged to the person, e.g. the bank, TV Licensing, insurance providers and landlord. These are sometimes known as asset holders. Send an original death certificate to any asset holders. Ask for direct debits to be cancelled, and find out all account balances and investment values.
  • Find out where the most up-to-date version of the person’s will is held and get the original. You may need to provide a death certificate and proof of your identity. Any other executors must confirm they are happy for you to have the original will.
  • Make copies of the will for co-executors, financial institutions and beneficiaries and then put them away in a safe place. Don’t tamper with them or the original will in any way (this includes adding staples or paper clips).
  • If necessary, arrange the funeral. Check the will for any funeral wishes. If the person had a funeral plan, contact the provider immediately.
  • Inform family, friends, and work colleagues of the death. This can include putting a notice in the local or national newspapers with funeral details so people can attend.
  • If there is an unoccupied property, secure it and inform the insurers immediately. Make sure the mains services (gas, electricity and water) comply with insurance terms. The property must be kept in a decent state of repair, since the insurance policy may have minimum requirements as to maintenance or occupation. Also check what coverage the insurance provides after the death, as the estate may have to replace the deceased person as the policy-holder after a certain amount of time. Stop any deliveries and redirect the post.
  • When you receive an invoice for the funeral, you can take it to the deceased person’s bank or building society along with a death certificate, the will and your identification. You will be issued with a cheque for the amount due, made payable to the funeral director.
  • Stop the payment of salary, pensions and state benefits. Advise the issuers of credit cards, passport, driver’s licence, TV licence and act on their instructions. The service, Tell Us Once, allows you to tell the government just once about the death. Once you have informed the service they will contact all the relevant departments on your behalf (housing, Pension Service, Passport Service and DVLA).
  • Request information on any debts the deceased person had, and any overpayments made to them.
  • Check whether a grant of probate is needed. Sometimes there is no need to apply for one because, for example, the value of the estate is very small (usually less than £5,000). In this case you need to write to whoever is holding the money, and ask whether they will make a payment to you without receiving a grant of probate.
  • The grant of probate or confirmation is a legal document that confirms the will is valid and allows you to deal with the estate. It is issued by the local Probate Registrar. Get several copies as you will need them for asset holders.
    Call the Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline on 0845 30 20 900 for more information.
  • If the will states a specific item of personal property is to be given to someone (‘bequeathed’), you can do this before probate is granted. If the estate is likely to be taxable, you should get a valuation of the item to include in your Inheritance Tax (IHT) return.
  • Work out the value of any assets and debts, and make a full inventory of everything the deceased person owned and owed. If you are going to apply for probate yourself, complete the PA1 application form and the relevant Inheritance Tax Form, even if no IHT is payable. Arrange to have an interview at the Probate Registry, or consult a solicitor to do this on your behalf.
  • Contact the deceased person’s tax office to find out whether any other tax, such as Income Tax, is owed.
  • Open a separate executor account into which you can transfer any money paid into the estate. This will stop estate money getting confused with your personal finances.
  • When you receive a grant of probate or confirmation, send an office copy with instructions to assetholders. When the assets are released, pay them into the special estate account (except anything that has been specifically bequeathed to someone).
  • Pay any outstanding tax and bills. It is advisable to put up a ‘statutory notice for creditors’ in the press, allowing two months for claims to be made. If you don’t, you will be personally responsible for any claims that arise. Putting up the notice means any future claims will be made against the beneficiaries instead.
  • Get clearance from HMRC for any IHT, Administration Income Tax (tax on income that has accumulated since the date of death) or Capital Gains Tax liability.
  • Distribute the estate in accordance with the terms of the will, making sure at least two trustees have been named for any gifts left to children under 18.
  • Draw up estate accounts for each beneficiary, accounting for all the assets collected, income accrued, and any liabilities paid.
  • Give each beneficiary an R185 tax form (ask the Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline for more information) for their share of estate income.
Inheritance Tax (IHT) may have to be paid on the estate if it is worth more than £325,000. Even if the deceased person’s estate is over the IHT threshold, tax may not be due if gifts are passing to a spouse, civil partner or charity. Also, if the deceased person was a widow, widower or surviving civil partner, the estate may be able to use the tax allowance of the deceased’s spouse or civil partner. If there could be IHT to pay, get a professional valuation on high-value items, such as a house or stock market investments, as you will need to give HMRC a detailed account along with valuations. List any major gifts made by the deceased person in the last seven years, as these may be liable for IHT. You can order an IHT form by calling the Probate and Inheritance Tax helpline, or download one from
IHT will have to be paid before probate is granted. If necessary, arrange an executor’s loan account with a bank to pay IHT.

Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline
Help and advice from HMRC following a death. You can order paper copies of forms via the helpline. Tel: 0845 30 20 900

Probate Service
Information and advice on dealing with an estate and contact details for local probate registries. Tel: 0845 30 20 900

There is much more information on this complex area – the above is intended purely as a starting point when considering appointing executors or agreeing to become an executor.
The main message is to seek professional information and advice.
A pdf version of this briefing can be downloaded from here.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Don't be spooked this Halloween

With Halloween fast approaching, police are reminding people make sure they spend their time trick-or-treating responsibly.

Many residents enjoy Halloween and view it as harmless fun, but for others it can be distressing receiving visits from unexpected callers, particularly the elderly and those that live alone.

The neighbourhood police teams in the Thames Valley will be undertaking high-visibility patrols over the Halloween period to deal with any anti-social behaviour. They also work with schools and parents to reduce the incidents of nuisance and criminal damage that can happen at this time of year.

You can download and print a ‘No trick-or-treat’ flyer from the Thames Valley Police website and display it in a window or visit your local station to pick up a copy.

If you or your children see this flyer displayed please move on to the next house. Most people will have a pumpkin or Halloween decorations on display to welcome callers.

We will also be encouraging people to watch our ‘Click Your Trick’ film which highlights the consequences of anti-social behaviour. The film features a teenager who was convicted of arson after he and his friend put a firework through a family home as a prank in 2008. The prank went horribly wrong with the firework setting the house on fire. Luckily nobody was seriously injured.

We want everybody to have fun during Halloween and Bonfire night, but don’t want children and teenagers to be influenced by others into doing things that may seem minor at the time. Please remember, your actions could have a massive impact on not only people inside their house but to your life as well.

Don’t let Halloween become a terrifying experience for all the wrong reasons, warn fire fighters. John Robinson, station Manager from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service community safety team, said: “We don’t want to stop people enjoying Halloween, but we do want them to celebrate safely. There is nothing more terrifying than having a fire at home or seeing your clothes catch fire.
“Just follow this safety advice for a safer Halloween: never make costumes from flammable materials, always check costumes and masks are labelled as flame resistant, keep candles away from children and ensure they are extinguished at night, and do not overload electricity sockets with lightings.”

If you are trick-or-treating this year:
  • Don’t knock where you see a ‘No Trick-or-Treat’ poster.
  • Be visible and stick to well-lit streets.
  • Although Halloween is meant to be spooky, be careful not to frighten people.
  • Plan your trick-or-treat route before you go and let an adult know where you’ll be going and what time you will be back.
  • Go with an adult when possible.
If at any point you do feel nervous or unsafe:
  • Don’t open your door if you’re unsure who is there. Use your spy-hole, look out of a window, and use your door chain if you do decide to open your door.
  • Have a contact number of a close relative or good neighbour by your telephone, just in case you need to phone them.
  • If you are part of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, let your coordinator know that you will be on your own at Halloween. If you are a coordinator, please identify people in your scheme that may be vulnerable and offer them reassurance.
Thames Valley Police will not tolerate any anti-social behaviour at any time of the year.
To report anti-social behaviour please call the 24 hour non-emergency number 101. If it is a crime in progress, call 999 immediately.

Click for the Thames Valley 

Police website

Friday, 10 October 2014

Aids and Adaptations for Daily Living

Click to visit website

Safe and Well is a new service for Bucks launched on 1st October. Safe+Well™ is a service designed to support people who may not meet the criteria of eligible needs with Social Services or who choose to arrange their own support.
A private company has been commissioned by Bucks County Council to provide:
  •  A reliable and trustworthy service to signpost people to for local advice and information on how daily living aids and telecare can support their independence 
  • A range of professional assessment options to help people identify what daily living aids would make life easier for them at home 
  • A range of accredited retail options – online / telephone / catalogue / local retailers where people can buy good quality daily living aids from trained staff. 
Why provide Safe+Well™ in your local area?
Safe+Well™ is a service which has developed in response to the changing climate of Health and Social Care. In particular:
  • Care Act 2014 - The new Act gives a duty to local authorities to signpost to reliable sources of advice, information and guidance. Research shows that at least one in three women and one in five men reported having unmet needs for some activities of daily living. With national eligibility thresholds set to change there are likely to be many more people who will no longer have their needs met by the statutory sector but who may be able to meet some of these needs through inexpensive daily living aids.
  • Personalisation - Safe+Well™ provides information and choice for people on how and where to buy their daily living aids and putting them in control. 
How does Safe+Well™ help people to choose the right daily living aids? 
We know that without good advice and information people can make poor decisions about which daily living aid to buy and waste money. Safe+Well™ aims to give people a range of options with which to make an informed decision about the appropriate daily living aids for them and let them know where they can purchase them from. People can choose from:
  • FREE On-line questionnaire - answer quick and easy questions and receive a report showing which daily living aids may help 
  • FREE telephone advice line run by qualified Occupational Therapists (OT's) • FREE local places to "try before you buy" 
  • FREE advice on telecare options - both stand alone and monitored
  • Occupational Therapist (OT) home visit - an NRS OT will carry a full home visit and complete a written report. (currently £99) 
Telephone 0300 100 0247 or visit
 NRS Healthcare Unit 29/30, Faraday Road Rabans Lane Industrial Area Aylesbury HP19 8RY

This information is provided by AVDC but it is not AVDC’s service and AVDC has no influence over it – the contact details are provided for who arranges this service.

Help for People with Energy Bills

Please see the poster (click here to download) advertising new drop-in sessions.
These drop-in sessions are available to anyone within Buckinghamshire. The aim of them is to assist people with any issues they may be having with their energy bills; whether that be understanding their bills or wanting help switching supplier.
If you know of someone who would benefit from this service but is not able to attend one of these drop-in sessions please contact the organisers. Also, please remember National Energy Foundation also do a lot of outreach to groups or organisations; if you feel this would be beneficial to a group or club you know of then please pass them these contact details.
Kathryn Shepherd
Affordable Warmth Projects Manager – National Energy Foundation
Tel: 01908 256917

This information is provided by AVDC but it is not AVDC’s drop in sessions and AVDC has no influence over it – the contact details are provided for who arranges this help.