How Hard Is It To Be An Executor of a Will? by Shakeel Mir - The Law House Family Law Solicitors, London & Peterborough


How Hard Is It To Be An Executor of a Will? by Shakeel Mir

By in All Blogs Category on May 12th, 2015

How hard can it be to be an executor?

In short very easy. Many people are appointed executors without their knowledge and so they become the appointed executors. So what does it all mean?

Executors only come into existence if a person making a Will, known as a testator (or testatrix in the case of a female) will be expected to appoint an executor in the Will, to sort out his or her affairs after their death. Therefore, an executor will after the death of testator be expected to obtain the Grant of Probate, which will allow the executor to deal with the estate of the testator. If the estate is very small you may not need a Grant of Probate. The executor brings together all the assets and works out the debts owed by the deceased in order to be able to distribute the estate to the those named in the Will to receive the assets in the estate.

How many executors do you need?

Often there will be 2 executors, who are also appointed Trustees at the same time. A Trustee is a person who deals with any Trusts which have been set up by the Will or which come into existence because someone has died. The most common type of trust happens when the person who dies leaves behind young children under the age of 18. Where the Trust involves children, for example, then at least 2 Trustees should be appointed.

How complex can an estate be?

This may all seem a daunting task and in practical terms it can be at times. Some estates can be very complex and go on for years. I sometimes wonder who would choose to be an executor and be left with the burden of dealing with an estate? A testator who wants to make a Will should be encouraged by their legal advisor to speak with the people he or she wants to appoint as executors to check with them whether they would be willing to deal with the estate. Family members are likely to agree to take on the role. Family members who are going to inherit have after all, a bigger motivation. If they want to inherit their share of the estate then why shouldn’t they agree to sorting it out? Friends as executors may not feel comfortable about taking on the role. Friends and neighbours, for example, maybe more reluctant to want to get involved. There is no point in appointing someone, who when the time comes, decides to renounce their appointment which they are entitled to do.

There are technicalities involved in dealing with the estate. The Grant of Probate is a legal document and certain procedures have to be followed, in order to obtain one. An executor will also have to complete Inheritance tax forms whether tax is payable or not. If a Trust is involved an executor will have to act as a Trustee and probably have to look at investing assets in order to preserve them for beneficiaries who will inherit at a future date. Some Trusts can be termed in legalistic jargon and technical terms.

No one can force you to be an executor

But remember that just because you are named as an executor doesn’t mean that you have to prepare the paperwork yourself. An executor should consider, especially for complicated or high net worth estates, to instruct a competent solicitor to deal with the paperwork. Although this will incur expense, it will ensure that the estate is dealt with properly. An executor can be sued by a beneficiary if the executor has been negligent or wilfully breached their duties as executor. Nobody wants to find themselves in that situation.  You can also resign the role so long as you have done absolutely nothing that moves the administration of the estate forward.

If you would like expert advice on making Wills and choosing executors witha little bit of inheritance tax planning then call Shakeel Mir on 020 8899 6620 or email him at smir@thelawhouse.com