An Executor is a person (or persons) named in a valid will, who could be heirs or may not be beneficiaries at all. The Executor(s) will legally own all the assets from the time the Testator dies. The Executor(s) will not be able to take any of the assets into their own possession nor dispose of them until the will has been “proven” and their position as Executor(s) is confirmed by a Grant of Probate (also known as a Grant of Representation). An heir who becomes an Administrator has the same responsibilities.
As is the case when tracing missing heirs, there is the same hierarchy of those who can become an Administrator:
- The spouse or civil partner of the Deceased
- A child of the Deceased
- A grandchild of the Deceased (or further descendant thereof)
- A parent of the Deceased
- A brother or sister of the Deceased
- A nephew or niece of the Deceased (or further descendant thereof)
- Another relative of the Deceased
The duties of an Executor or an Administrator are similar and include duties to:
- Safeguard and collect assets
- Pay the debts of the Deceased
- Distribute the remainder of the Estate to the beneficiaries.
However if you are an heir and become the Administrator you will probably need Letters of Administration (also known as a Grant of Representation) to give you the authority to deal with the Estate. Unlike an Executor, a personal representative who intends to apply for a Grant of Administration only owns the Estate once the Grant has been issued and has no authority to act until then.
So none of the beneficiaries on intestacy, whether or not they are a potential Administrator should, for example, advertise a property for sale or dispose of any assets before the Grant has been issued.
In order to perform these duties there will be many tasks to be done before and after obtaining a Grant of Probate and an Executor or Administrator is responsible for administering the Estate for the rest of their life. In theory it is possible for something to come to light many years after the Administrator thought their duties were finished which they will then be obliged to deal with.
This may sound onerous, but if none of the heirs want to act as Administrator then there may be a problem as without one the Estate cannot be distributed to the beneficiaries. So if you are traced by a professional probate genealogy company (heir hunters) who believe you to be a valid beneficiary, and are asked to be the Administrator don’t be put off. The heir hunters may also give you the option to instruct one of their panel of independent solicitors to act on your behalf and distribute the Estate to all the rightful heirs. This will ensure that you never have to pay for any legal fees personally. A reputable heir hunting company will also carry Professional Indemnity Insurance, which protects Trustees and Administrators further.
This is just another example of why if you are traced by an heir hunting company it is wise to take advantage of more of the additional services they provide. Professional Probate Genealogists, like Finders, don’t just trace missing beneficiaries but work on their behalf until the Estate is distributed to all the rightful heirs, and beyond that should a missing beneficiary appear in the future. In the case of Finders heir hunters, this includes tracing missing heirs, missing wills, missing assets, completing estate distribution schedules, obtaining missing beneficiary or missing will insurance and performing worldwide bankruptcy searches, all to ensure that heirs receive their inheritance safely and securely.
Finders heir hunters have been awarded the ISO 9001:2008 Total Quality Management certification and are the first probate genealogy firm to achieve the international version of this Standard as devised by the IAB (International Accreditation Board). Finders have also been awarded ISO/IEC 27001:2005 Data & Information Security Certification. Finders heir hunters also provide Aviva missing beneficiary insurance, which protects Trustees and Administrators against the unlikely but possible event of an unknown beneficiary emerging after an Estate has been distributed. Finders heir hunters can also obtain Aviva insurance against a will being found which disinherits heirs who have received already been paid, thus safeguarding heir from ever having to repay their inheritance once received.
As agents for Aviva Finders heir hunters are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.