Why You Need to Choose Your Executors Wisely
Why You Need to Choose Your Executors Wisely
An Executor is someone you appoint in your Will to take on the responsibility of handling your legal and financial affairs after your death. In many cases, it will be a family member or close friend that you choose. Or you might prefer to nominate a Professional Estate Administrator to take care of things. Whatever you decide, you need to be sure that the person, or people if you have several Executors, is someone with the capacity to carry out the necessary duties in accordance with your wishes.
What does an Executor have to do?
Even with a relatively small estate, there are many Estate Administration tasks that an Executor must carry out, including:
- Collecting all your documents and information
- Valuing all assets and distributing the estate
- Informing the relevant authorities of a death
- Selling property
- Contacting beneficiaries
- Winding up bank accounts and cancelling utilities
- Paying off debts
- Sorting out HMRC and Inheritance
- Tax matters
- Keeping records of estate accounts
And much more. If you have a large estate or business assets, it can be even more complicated. That’s why it so important to choose someone reliable and trustworthy, who has the right skills and attributes for the role. If a person isn’t great with paperwork, is disorganised or might struggle to cope emotionally with the workload, they may not make the best Executor.
What happens when you choose the wrong Executor?
Choosing the wrong Executor can have unfortunate consequences, both for the Executors themselves and your beneficiaries. If the person is inexperienced, reluctant or even downright dishonest, it can disrupt or delay the Estate Administration process or prompt legal action. Common problems with Executors include:
- When a group of Executors can’t work together: appointing several Executors to lighten the load is an option many people go for – children are commonly nominated to handle the estate of their parents, for example. However, if you have several Executors there is always the potential for disagreements to occur. This may create delays and disputes, particularly if any of the Executors in question are also beneficiaries. While you can’t see into the future, it’s sensible to bear relationships and personalities in mind when choosing more than one Executor or to plump for a more neutral party altogether.
- When an Executor no longer wants the responsibility: sometimes a person who has agreed to be an Executor and been named in the Will may decide they cannot or no longer want to undertake their duties. They can renounce the role (read the government guidance here) but it can add extra hassle to the Probate process. There’s always a potential that this may happen should someone’s life circumstances change. However, choosing a friend or relative who hasn’t always been too reliable could make the possibility of this happening much greater.
- When Executors make mistakes due to inexperience: as mentioned, there is a lot of form filling and other laborious paperwork to be done and it all has to be completed accurately. Things like misspelling a name on an important document, failing to interpret the Will correctly, not understanding the Inheritance Tax rules or distributing assets too early are common mistakes with big consequences. A novice error may cause nothing more than serious an unnecessary delay. On the other hand, a tax miscalculation could cost everyone dearly and land the Executor in some legal hot water.
- When an Executor is dishonest or obstructive: as a Personal Representative, an Executor has a legal duty to act in the best interests of the estate. Unfortunately, some Executors may not prove to be as trustworthy as first thought. Negligence, fraud and deliberate obstruction can occur. In such cases, beneficiaries may face having to enter into dispute resolution or apply to the courts for the removal of the Executor – whether to the High Court under the Administration of Justice Act 1985 or to the Probate Registry under the Senior Courts Act 1981.
Avoiding problems with Executors
While it’s never possible to know exactly how things will pan out in the future, making some sensible choices regarding your Executors can mitigate the risk of problems. The most reliable way to save your friends and family from the stress of executorship duties is to appoint an experienced expert.
At Laurelo, our Professional Executorship Service gives you peace of mind that everything will be taken care of promptly, correctly and professionally. Our impartial experts are here to give advice and act in the best interests of your estate.
If you are a group of Executors who can’t agree, a single Executor who is completely overwhelmed by the process, or you want to appoint a professional Executor in your Will – talk to us.
This article is intended to provide information only and does not constitute legal advice. We do not accept any responsibility for any omission or loss as a result of this article.
C Hardman (Executor)
"Well informed, helpful and efficient throughout the whole probate journey. I was particularly impressed by the speed of response when I had questions"
V Garner (Executor)
"Thank you for dealing with the probate so efficiently. I would not hesitate to recommend your services in the future."
J Jackson (Executor)
"It has been my absolute pleasure to have met Michael and for him to act on my behalf, a wonderful, professional, caring person whose services I would recommend to anyone."
Peter Nash/Paula Cranmer (Executors)
"I would recommend Laurelo to anyone who needs good and sensible advice about the probate process at a very reasonable price."
A Wilson (Executor)
"I wouldn't hesitate in recommending Laurelo in what, at the outset felt like a daunting task, but in reality once explained to us and the burden of completing the forms taken away and completed by a professional the process was seamless."
Lorri Turner Senior Manager (Herongate Wood)
“I have always found Michael at Laurelo to be engaging, honest and supportive of the customers needs. The offer of a home visit to see clients within their own familiar surroundings further supports this. I have no difficulty in recommending their services."
G Perrett Will Protect Ltd & Executor
“Michael's professionalism and knowledge of every aspect of probate is only matched by his sensitivity and patience. He instinctively knows what to say and when to say it and I am so grateful to him for helping me navigate the most difficult period of my life so far safe in the knowledge that I could simply "park" this part of the process and leave it with him to "sort out"."
K Whittle (Executor)
“They provided a professional and emphatic approach and took all the stress away from dealing with probate. Filing the forms very promptly and the whole process was dealt with in just over a month. I would highly recommend and I again thank them for their help."