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Being an executor of someone’s will is a big responsibility as you must manage and distribute the deceased’s assets. However, what are the executor’s duties, and can an executor of a will be removed? Our solicitors explain everything you need to know in this article.
For more information, please visit our wills and probate page. Furthermore, if you want to contact a solicitor today, please call us directly on 020 3007 5500.
What is an executor of a will?
An executor of a will is someone you appoint to carry out the wishes you left in your will after you pass away.
You can choose anyone to be an executor of your will. However, your appointed executor should be someone you can trust, such as a family member, a friend or a professional body such as a solicitor.
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What does an executor of a will do?
An executor of a will has the responsibility of distributing all of the assets in your estate to the named beneficiaries in your will. The executor will have to take on several duties, which include:
- Distributing the estate.
- Closing the deceased’s bank account.
- Paying debts and selling/transferring property.
- Making funeral arrangements in line with the wishes left in the will.
- Preparing a list of the assets and liabilities that the predeceased owns to value them at the time of death.
- Placing an advertisement in the London Gazette for a minimum period of two months to avoid future liabilities from creditors.
- Keeping accurate accounting records.
- Preparing and filing income tax returns on behalf of the deceased.
If you’re unsure on how to complete all your duties as executor, it may be worth consulting a solicitor to act on your behalf instead.
Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary?
In short, yes. It’s not unusual for an executor to also be a beneficiary. However, an executor must not be a witness to the signing of a will.
If an executor witnesses the signing of a will they will lose their entitlement to receive their inheritance. Therefore, a will must always be signed in front of two independent witnesses.
What happens if an executor of a will is dead?
It’s not uncommon for an executor to pass away before the testator (the person who made the will). In an event where an executor does pass away before the testator, the testator can simply appoint a new executor.
However, in an instance where the executor dies soon after the testator, then the next appointed individual in the will becomes the executor.
Appointing a solicitor as executor of a will?
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How to remove an executor of a will?
There could be many reasons why a new executor is to be appointed. Some common reasons for appointing a new executor include the current executor:
- Not wanting to be the executor of the will
- Failing to administrate the estate properly
- Being dishonest, for example, by making an unauthorised profit from the assets.
Delaying the administration of the estate
In any case, where you’re unhappy with the executor, you should always try to resolve the issue informally without court intervention. However, if you can’t resolve the matter informally, then making an application to the court to remove the executor can be your best option.
What if there’s no will?
If an individual dies without having a will in place, the intestacy rules dictate who can manage the estate and apply for probate. Under the intestacy rules, only your spouse, civil partner and a few other relatives can apply for the grant of letters of administration and handle your estate. The grant of letters of administration is an official court document that proves you have the authority to deal with someone’s estate.
The person who can apply for the grant of letters administration when there’s no will follows in order of priority of:
- The surviving husband or spouse
- The children of the deceased
- The father and mother of the deceased
- Brothers and sisters of the deceased
- Whole blooded uncles and aunts
- Half blooded uncles and aunts
Following the priority order above, if the deceased had a surviving spouse, that surviving spouse would be the one to apply for the grant of administration. However, in a circumstance where the deceased didn’t have a surviving spouse but had one child (over the age of 18), the child can apply for the grant of administration.
Can a solicitor be an executor of a will?
Anyone over the age of 18 who has mental capacity can be named an executor of a will. However, it’s common for people to appoint a solicitor as an executor of a will as it gives you that peace of mind that an experienced professional is handling your estate. Appointing a friend or loved one as your executor at an already emotionally stressful time can prove costly if mistakes are made.
How can Britton and Time Solicitors help?
By appointing a solicitor at Britton and Time as your executor, we can guarantee:
- Peace of mind. Your estate will be correctly handled and distributed by an experienced professional.
- Stress relief for loved ones. When you appoint a loved one as an executor, it can become very stressful to manage the distribution of an estate at an already emotionally stressful time. Therefore, appointing a solicitor can help take this weight off their shoulders.
- Efficiency. Our solicitors have several professional contacts such as estate agents, accountants, funeral directors, among others. As a result, when it comes to selling/transferring property, creating accurate accounting records and arranging funeral plans, our solicitors can get this work done efficiently.
To contact our solicitors, please call us directly on 020 3007 5500 or send an email via firstname.lastname@example.org.