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Appointing Executors of your will - who to choose?

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When an individual decides to make a Will, they may assume that the most important consideration is who will benefit from their estate, and how much they will receive. However, choosing the right Executors to appoint should also be a significant consideration as this role carries important legal duties and responsibilities.

An Executor is legally responsible for administering the Estate in accordance with both the terms of the Will, and the law. It was recently reported that an executor failed in his duty to distribute a woman’s £240,000 estate in accordance with her Will. He instead used her assets to fund his own life style, spending all of the estate monies on luxury holidays and vehicles, and leaving the beneficiaries with nothing. The High Court found that his breaches of trust were so grave that only an immediate prison sentence would suffice.

This reminds us of why appointing the right person as the Executor of our estate is so important.

Who is the right person to appoint?

Acting as an Executor can be a daunting prospect as the role carries with it a considerable amount of legal, tax and administrative responsibilities. These responsibilities last for the duration of the administration process but may also continue into any ongoing Trust

Therefore, it is very important that you choose someone who you can trust to carry out the role responsibly. You are able to appoint an individual or a professional/professional body such as a solicitors, or both.

If appointing an individual, you may wish to consider your spouse/partner, close family members or close friends. You should consider appointing a minimum of two individual executors. Although there is no maximum limit to the amount of Executors you can appoint, only four will be able to obtain probate.

What if my appointed Executors find the process too difficult?

If you decide to appoint a non-professional Executor, they will still be able to seek professional advice from a solicitor. This may be necessary if they find the process too difficult or time-consuming.

Chattertons provide advice to Executors regarding their legal duties and can take instructions to administer the estate on their behalf. Examples of the types of tasks we can carry out on behalf of an Executor include:-

  • Collecting in the assets of the Estate and paying any outstanding liabilities of the Estate;
  • Preparing the necessary probate papers (including the Executors’ Oath, calculating the inheritance tax due and completing the necessary HMRC Forms);
  • Preparing the necessary estate accounts; and/or
  • Distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the will

Appointing a professional executor

Sometimes it may be appropriate to appoint a professional Executor in your Will. Although a professional or professional body will charge for their time, this may be considered appropriate in the following circumstances:-

  • You wish to leave the role of Executor with a professional who is more experienced in dealing with the administration process;
  • You have a good relationship with your professional adviser and feel more confident in appointing them as your Executor;
  • You do not feel comfortable appointing a family member or friend as your Executor, or you feel that there is no-one else who can properly carry out the role; or
  • Your estate may be complex and require a professional’s knowledge and experience


If you need legal advice regarding any Wills, Trusts & Probate matters please contact our specialist Wills, Trusts & Probate team 

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