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Appointing executors for your Will – do you have to let them know?

Appointing executors for your Will – do you have to let them know?

It’s an important decision – picking the person or people you want to take care of your estate and carry out the wishes detailed in your Will after you die.

Yet according to research, one in five people appointed as an executor only find out they have been chosen for this responsibility after their friend or loved one’s death.

In other words, it comes as a total surprise.

A further fifth of executors do get advance warning, but only after the Will had been written, making it potentially awkward for them to refuse.

Do you have to tell an executor you want them to carry out this role for you?

The answer, technically, is no but obviously it makes sense – and is only polite – to ask their permission.

This gives them the chance to turn down the role if they feel it’s too burdensome and gives you the opportunity to ask someone else of your choice who is happy to take it on.

What does an executor do?

An executor is appointed by someone in their Will to take responsibility for their estate – the money, property and possessions they leave behind.

This can include notifying all beneficiaries of the death, working out the estate’s assets and liabilities, preparing Inheritance Tax accounts, gathering in all the assets, preparing accounts and distributing the balance of the estate to the named beneficiaries in accordance with the Will.

The size and complexity of the estate will determine how much work and time is involved for the executors.

How do I choose my executor?

Trust is the most important quality. It could be a family member or a friend and it’s fine for them to be a beneficiary too.

You could also appoint a specialist solicitor. They are regulated and insured against errors, unlike an executor working alone.

Can an executor say no?

The best time to ask someone to be your executor is before you make, or as you are making, your Will.

They are perfectly entitled to say no if they feel it would be too much for them.

An executor can also agree and then change their mind, due to illness for example. This is known as renouncing their role and is completely permissible provided they haven’t started estate administration and as long as the person who made the Will, known as the testator, has already died.

Get in touch

Our specialist Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity team can advise you on all aspects of estate management including appointing an executor or advising you if you are acting as an executor.

We can also act as an executor for you in your Will or help you apply for probate if you have been appointed as an executor and that person has died.

Aside from being experts in this area of law, most of our team are fully accredited with Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). Membership of these organisations ensures the highest standards of professionalism.

We offer a free initial appointment for you to discuss what you need and always provide clear cost details up front before starting any work.

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