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Executors and Trustees – Appoint them in your Will


We explain more.

Executors and trustees should not be shackled by missing administration clausesWill you shackle  your executors?

An Executor is a person appointed within a person’s Will who is responsible for sorting out the person’s estate when they die – in accordance with the deceased’s Will.

You should appoint at least one person as your executor in your Will, (accept in certain cases where there should be a minimum of two) – but there is no upper limit as to how many people you can appoint.  However only four people can apply for Probate.

You can make the appointment conditional (e.g. the executor must have attained age 25 at the time of your death).  You can also appoint reserve executors who should act should your first choice be unable to do so.

If you do not appoint an executor then anyone within your family can take on the role of sorting out your estate as an ‘administrator’.  The benefit of appointing an executor is that the process of winding up your estate is simplified, and also you can choose someone who is trustworthy and discreet to sort out your affairs.  Remember, whoever sorts out your affairs they will be going through your personal papers and documents, and personal belongings.

Your executor should be honest and trustworthy, discreet, and be able to work logically and methodically through the process of sorting out your estate.  If they have been appointed jointly with another person then it is important that both/all executors can work together.

Executors are governed by a significant amount of legislation.  If they breach that legislation they themselves are ‘in breach of trust’ and can be held personally accountable to the affected beneficiaries.  Executors must therefore be very careful when undertaking the role - and especially so if the deceased is insolvent.

Unless an estate is particularly complicated or contentious we recommend that close family members (or trusted friends) be appointed as executors, rather than using the services of a professional – such as a solicitor or will writer.  The family members/friend can then use the services of a professional if they need help. This keeps the cost of administration low.

Where the estate is complex or contentious then it is often worth the expense of appointing a professional (e.g. a solicitor) either jointly with a member of the family, or individually.

Although we, Convenient Wills, do not undertake probate work we have contacts who will for a small fee advise guide an executor on completing the task themselves, or for a very competitive fee undertake the whole process. Please call us if you would like more information.

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Should We Change Our Executors? (Presently our solicitors’ are appointed.)

Solicitors and will writers will often suggest/recommend that you appoint them as your executors; this way the solicitor or will writer can undertake obtaining Probate for you which, for them, is a very profitable line of business. The fees, of course, are paid out of the beneficiaries inheritance.

There are occasions when a solicitor should be appointed as the executor. But if the estate distribution is simple, does not include complex trusts, and the family are unlikely to challenge the will in any way then usually a family member (who is prepared to devote time to the exercise, and work logically) can undertake the task without any difficulty.  

There is help on the Internet, and the Probate offices can provide additional help.