The role of an Executor

Choosing your Executor

It’s essential to choose someone you trust and, ideally, who has good administration skills.

The role of Executor involves collecting in all your assets, paying off your debts, and distributing your estate in accordance with your wishes.  They need to obtain and manage the legal paperwork, and keep an account of what they’ve done.  It’s a role that takes time too, so bear this in mind.

You might want to choose two people to act together, to lessen the burden on one individual.

Either way, make sure you’ve spoken to them before you appoint them in your Will.  And then tell them where your current Will is kept so that they know where to look when they need it.

You and your Executor(s) should be realistic about the potential challenges of the role.  Here are some examples:

What could possibly go wrong?

Someone demands to see the Will or other documents relating to the deceased’s financial affairs

You are not obliged to show anyone the Will, although it is common for the residuary beneficiaries to see the Will and the final Estate Accounts. If they are very keen to see the Will, mention that it will become a public document when Probate has been granted. Then they can carry out a Probate search online to get a copy.

Someone challenges the Will

If the Will is challenged, or you know someone is going to challenge it, you must pause what you are doing as Executor until the challenge has been dealt with. If you are a beneficiary of the Will as well as an Executor, we recommend you get legal advice.

Someone challenges what you are doing

If a beneficiary thinks you are spending money inappropriately, or making decisions they do not agree with, they can ask the Court to remove you from your role. It is unusual for this to be successful, and you should be fully prepared to show what your actions have been and why they are reasonable in the case.

You are always entitled to take legal advice in these situations. It’s worth picking up the phone and giving us a call for some guidance on your position and what you should do next.

Acting as an Executor

Before you agree to acting as an Executor, have a think about the issues which might arise. 

In the wake of someone’s death, there can be all kind of family misunderstandings and disagreements.  You must remain aloof from such dynamics, and get on with the task in hand. 

Are you able to do that, or would you find it hard to stand your ground if necessary?

It is always possible to instruct us to help with the probate process, and our professional fees will come out of the proceeds of the estate. 

We have written guidance specifically for Executors.  Click here to read it. 

You can read our other ‘Guides’ online, or contact us directly with your queries.  We’re happy to help.

Call 01869 226 760 or email to make an appointment that’s convenient for you.