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Choosing an Executor

What is an executor of a will?

An executor is named in a will and carries the responsibility of managing a person’s estate (money, property and possessions, etc.) should they pass away.

Most people opt to choose a professional executor in the form of trained solicitors rather than family members, due to the vast amount of responsibilities involved.

What does an executor of a will do?

Executors administer a person’s will when they die, ensuring that the individual’s wishes are carried out exactly as stated. There can be more than one executor and they are chosen at the time of writing the will.

The duties of an executor include:

  • Ensuring that the property owned by the deceased is secure after their death
  • Collecting assets and money from the estate (including sold houses, etc.)
  • Paying any outstanding taxes and debts from the estate
  • Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries outlined in the will

Who can be the executor of a will in the UK?

It’s essentially chosen by the individual when the will is written and can be anyone from a professional solicitor to a family member, as long as they agree to the responsibility.

Can an executor be a beneficiary?

Yes, beneficiaries can be executors – so if a family member is due to inherit assets from a will but is also an executor, there should be no problem.

Can you have more than one executor?

The person who writes the will can select up to four executors in the UK, so the responsibility can be shared among people as they wish at the time of death.

Why choose a professional executor?

If you appoint a family member as an executor, it might not always go to plan.

People should consider whether they want to be an executor very carefully, as it can often be a difficult task with significant responsibilities.

There are a number of time-consuming duties involved, and being an executor can place a significant amount of stress on a family member, as they are likely to be unaccustomed to dealing with the legal responsibility and pressure that comes with the role, especially at such an emotionally-difficult time.

Choosing solicitors as executors is the most popular option for people in the UK, as we have been trained over many years to fully understand and manage wills responsibly.

As professional executors, solicitors ensure that no errors are made and that your estate is dealt with according to your wishes as well as the law.

Here are some reasons why you should choose a solicitor, rather than a family member, as an executor:

  • It’s time consuming for family members and can involve months, or even years, of work.
  • Executors are legally liable if any errors are made and can be subject to compensation claims.
  • The process can involve uncomfortable decisions that could lead to family disputes.
  • Due to the responsibility and significant amount of legal paperwork involved, being an executor can be highly stressful.

Solicitors are professionally qualified to deal with wills and they know everything there is to know about taxes, debts, estates, and all the laws concerned with being an executor. We act objectively and ensure that we deal with your estate in line with your wishes in a lawful and diligent manner.

By working with our trustworthy partner solicitors, you can be certain that your estate will be managed professionally and will not lose value, as it could if it was in the hands of an inexperienced executor.

In exchange for a very small percentage fee of the overall estate, you guarantee that your estate will be handled properly without any issues in dealing with the pressure of legalities and finances.

Choosing an inexperienced family member as an executor could put your hard-earned assets at risk, and could even make the family worse-off by placing your entire estate in the hands of an inexpert loved one.

Showing your family members how much you care for them can be done by making them a beneficiary, rather than placing the burden of being an executor upon them.

Executor responsibilities

Some of the key, and most complex, responsibilities that an executor has to deal with include:

  • Registering the death and gathering copies of the will
  • Arranging the funeral if necessary
  • Valuing the estate
  • Dealing with property – including unoccupied houses and insurance, etc.
  • Handling the complex finances in line with HMRC
  • Distributing the estate

The responsibility of distributing the estate alone comes with a number of sub-tasks, such as carrying out bankruptcy searches on the beneficiaries, and giving beneficiaries an R185 tax form.

There are a significant number of duties that come with being an executor, which untrained individuals are not likely to be accustomed to. This is why expert solicitors are usually the most suitable executors, as these legalities are familiar to them due to the training and experience they have.

Can one executor act without the other?

As previously mentioned, up to four executors can be chosen to manage a person’s will, but it does not necessarily mean that all of those nominated are required to be involved in the process.

It is completely legal for one executor to take over proceedings if they are happy to and if the others are happy and willing to step back.

Therefore, if a solicitor is named as one executor and the spouse of a deceased individual is the other, the solicitor is able to take over proceedings if the other executor would rather be less involved.

When should an executor notify beneficiaries?

Beneficiaries of the estate should be notified as soon as possible regarding what assets they are entitled to, but there is no law in Wales and England that states a specific timescale for this to happen.

Our partner solicitors will always contact your beneficiaries at the earliest opportunity suitable in the event of your passing, in order to make them aware of what exactly they are entitled to and the process of obtaining it.

Find a professional executor today

With a wealth of knowledge and experience, our partner UK solicitors are available to be professional executors for your will today. At Quick Wills, we work with our trusted partners to deliver you the best advice and service possible – all at an affordable price.

By working with us, you save yourself and your family from any future distress regarding your will, as we can ensure that your estate is held securely and distributed accurately in line with your wishes.

Give us a call at Quick Wills today or complete our short contact form and a member of our experienced team will be in touch at a time that is most convenient for you.

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