Help! I'm an Executor but I don't want to do it.
Executors are appointed in a Will to finalise the affairs of someone who has died. There are a number of legal and financial requirements that need to be completed when a person dies, this whole process is referred to as "Administering the Estate" or "Estate Administration". The executor is responsible for the administration of the estate and will find themselves having to manage a wide range of legal, financial and administrative tasks, these may include things such as closing the bank accounts, selling property, paying tax and other liabilities, as well as applying to the Court for 'Probate' and paying the inheritance to the beneficiaries.
But all of this comes at one of the most difficult and emotional times in a persons’ life. Dealing with the death of a loved one on top of these things will be overwhelming for some people and many will struggle to cope. Bereavement is not an everyday experience and for many, it will be their first experience of dealing with grief and will be left feeling uncertain about what to do and where to turn.
When acting as an executor in a Will you are said to owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries. In other words, an executor must always act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. Being chosen as an executor is a real vote in confidence in your character. You have been chosen because the person who included you within their Will trusted you to do what is right. If you step in to administer your estate, then the onus is on you to get it right.
It is important to realise that just because you are named as executor, it does not mean you have to take on the job. If you have got too much on your plate, or perhaps are of ill-health or just do not feel able then it is best to be honest with yourself. It is better not to act then to take on the role and try to struggle through.
We always advise someone making a Will to discuss the appointment with their executors and to ensure they are happy to take on the role. However, some people do not have these conversations and so it may come as a surprise to many that they have been chosen as an executors, and this can cause a great deal of stress.
Although the executors authority and legal powers to deal with the estate of the person who dies come from the Will itself, the executors will often need to obtain a Grant of Probate from the Probate Court.
What should I do if I don’t want to be an Executor?
You don't have to accept your appointment as executor and there are several options available to you. These are:
Renunciation: You can decide to renounce, which effectively means give up your legal right to apply for the Grant of Probate. If you are one of many named executors, then you may find this a simple way to step back. Once you have renounced you can have no further dealings with the administration of the Estate. If you wish to renounce, you should not have anything to do with the Estate before you submit your renunciation otherwise you will be deemed to have intermeddled in the administration of the Estate and you will be unable to Renounce.
Power Reserved: You can decide not to apply to be named as on the Grant of Probate at the current time and instead you reserve your right to take up the role and administer the Estate at some future point.
Who can help me if I am an Executor?
As you have seen, there are many legal, financial and practical obligations and so it is important to ask yourself before you begin the process whether you feel you would be able to cope or whether you would find more comfort in a professional managing everything for you and on your behalf. Many people do instruct a professional to help; not only can they ensure the estate is dealt with correctly and in adherence of the law but they can also ease the emotional burden from you as executor and give you peace of mind.
A Helping Hand when you need it most.
Acting as an Executor can be a daunting task but don't worry, you're not on your own. We are here to help you. Whether you want to talk to a specialist to simply be pointed in the right direction or if you would prefer to have help with the 'legal bit' or even hand the responsibility and burden on to someone else, then we have services tailored to meet your individual needs.
We have reshaped the choices available by creating simple and personalised solutions. We recognise that everyone is different - You choose how much or how little help you need and we will provide it.
We have many years’ experience in helping families protect their most valuable assets - their loved ones. As a Trust Corporation, we are able to help with any aspect you need following the death of a loved one. We can assist with the legal, financial and practical aspects expected of you and ensure that the assets are distributed quickly, debts and liabilities, including tax is paid swiftly and the estate is finalised properly.
Further details can be found on our website.