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What Does Being an Executor of a Will Entail?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 15 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Executor Executors Will Probate

One of the most fundamental elements of any will is the naming of the executor or executors. These should be trusted individuals who have been consulted prior to their nomination. Crucially, they must be prepared to do some practical work with regard to the settling of the deceased individual's estate.

Responsibilities

In the terms of the law, the executor is required to 'collect, get in, and administer according to law the estate of the deceased'. In more specific terms, it is their duty to execute the wishes of the deceased. In this way, their first responsibility will be to settle any outstanding debts which are owed by the estate, and to assess any such claims made by banks or other financial institutions.

Following this they will be required to arrange for payment of any inheritance tax which may be owed by the estate and, of course, to carry out the disbursement of the remaining assets to the named beneficiaries. Finally, it will also fall to the executor to investigate the possibility of any further heirs.

It is possible for a solicitor or professional executor to be named in a will. However if, as is generally the case, a family member or friend has been nominated, they may choose to enlist the help of such a third party to aid them in their work. In these cases, the named executor has a substantial amount of choice as to how much of the work he or she carries out; a solicitor could be employed to carry out almost all of the work or, alternatively, only a small proportion of it. The executor's decision as to whether or not to enlist such help will of course be affected by the complexities of the affairs in question; in many cases, their duties will be no more than the disbursement of the contents of a bank account.

Minimum Commitment

Whether or not help from a third party is arranged, the named executor will be expected to carry out at least some of the work. Most frequently this entails performing the initial tasks associated with locating and valuing the deceased individual's assets. Again, depending on the size and complexity of the estate, this can be a very simple or a very complex task. Similarly, it is often expected that the executor will make the appropriate funeral arrangements, in line with the directions given in the will.

At a very minimum, the executor should assume that they will be required to lend their signature to a variety of documents.

In the first instance, and before any other action is taken, the executor must receive legal ratification of his or her right to take control of the assets in the estate. This requires them to apply for a Grant of Probate from the Probate Registry, which it will be necessary to produce before any bank or other relevant institution will hand over control of assets.

Although executorships can be a significant amount of work, it should be noted that the individuals in question are legally entitled to be reimbursed their expenses from the estate. The task should not, therefore, be to their financial detriment.

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Jan - Your Question:
My Father made a joint will with my Mother. On his death she went back to the same solicitor and they charged her for a new Will with no codiciles. My Mother had schizophrenia for which she was given injections and was under a S117 and before her death dementia. The solicitors have named themselves as her executors. Myself and my brothers want to do probate ourselves. There are no others to inherit and there will not be inheritance tax. We are furious that they abused their positions, didn't even consider asking that one of us act as executors. We also have one brother who is in permanent mental health care so we need to put in place a trust for his share. Can we dismiss the solicitors on the grounds they misrepresented her interests?

Our Response:
Probably not, maybe they assumed it would be easier if they were the executors or maybe they just used the same instructions as they appeared in the original joint Will? It might be easier if you discuss this with them. We don't think you can simply dismiss "named executors" - seek a second opinion from another legal professional.
TheWillExpert - 19-Jun-17 @ 2:21 PM
My Father made a joint will with my Mother.On his death she went back to the same solicitor and they charged her for a new Will with no codiciles.My Mother had schizophrenia for which she was given injections and was under a S117 and before her death dementia.The solicitors have named themselves as her executors.Myself and my brothers want to do probate ourselves.There are no others to inherit and there will not be inheritance tax.We are furious that they abused their positions, didn't even consider asking that one of us act as executors.We also have one brother who is in permanent mental health care so we need to put in place a trust for his share.Can we dismiss the solicitors on the grounds they misrepresented her interests?
Jan - 15-Jun-17 @ 8:24 PM
My Mam was named executor of my step Dads will however she passed away first but my Mam named me has the executor of her Will. her will says that everything goes to her children, his will said that his children get £3000 each everything else goes to Mam,, if he didnt change is will between Mam passing n him passing who becomes executor, his oldest or executor named in Mam will. ME ? thanks
Jimbo - 6-Jun-17 @ 7:43 PM
My dad passed away 3 years ago and left no will I have been to a solicitor we have been through probate and my solocator name me the executor but there is also one other person a second party she's not an executor just needed a second party for probate do I have the final say on the sale of the house
JueDrop - 30-May-17 @ 2:39 PM
Buddy - Your Question:
My father died in February 2015. My brother and I have been executors since the 1997 Will was made, when mum and dad severed the joint tenancy and, as tenants in common and became trustees, setting up a deed of trust for me, my sister and brother. On the death of our mother in 2004 my brother and I were also made trustees. We were informed by mum and dad,s solicitors that we now owned the property along with dad. The property has never been registered with land registry. The property is not part of the Estate, and we have an offer on it. Do we need a grant of probate to complete the sale? There is not enough value in the residual estate, although more than £8000in cash is unaccounted for, which I am somewhat worried!As we are over 2 years from dad,s death we do now need to conclude matters in the interests of all beneficiaries

Our Response:
Sorry but we can't answer questions with such a lot of individual influencing factors involved. You'd really be better speaking to a solicitor.
TheWillExpert - 16-May-17 @ 2:28 PM
My father died in February 2015. My brother and I have been executors since the 1997 Will was made, when mum and dad severed the joint tenancy and, as tenants in common and became trustees, setting up a deed of trust for me, my sister and brother. On the death of our mother in 2004 my brother and I were also made trustees. We were informed by mum and dad,s solicitors that we now owned the property alongwith dad. The property has never been registered with land registry. The property is not part of the Estate, and we have an offer on it. Do we need a grant of probate to complete the sale? There is not enough value in the residual estate, although more than £8000in cash is unaccounted for, which I am somewhat worried! As we are over 2 years from dad,s death we do now need to conclude matters in the interests of all beneficiaries
Buddy - 15-May-17 @ 3:38 PM
modycar - Your Question:
My father died in 2012 a few weeks later my brother asked me to sign papers to sign house over to my mum which I did as he walked away he said your a named executor to his will at the time I thought nothing of it.over the last few years everything is cloak and dagger so I asked to see my dads will and now im being accused of trying to get her credit card details my brother has convinced her im only after her money he is her carerer and has convinced her that im up to no good.can someone help me on what I can do.

Our Response:
If you'rethe executor to the Will, then you should be involved in administering it although why it's still an issue after5 is a bit of a worry. Seek advice from a solicitor.
TheWillExpert - 5-May-17 @ 11:43 AM
my father died in 2012 a few weeks later my brother asked me to sign papers to sign house over to my mum which i did as he walked away he said your a named executor to his will at the time i thought nothing of it.over the last few years everything is cloak and dagger so i asked to see my dads will and now im being accused of trying to get her credit card details my brother has convinced her im only after her money he is her carerer and has convinced her that im up to no good.can someone help me on what i can do.
modycar - 4-May-17 @ 3:39 PM
The previous story is mine, everyone keeps telling us that we should challenge probate. Is it possible in any way to do this? We feel that my uncle should have his last wishes, why should they just walk away with everything when they & everyone else knew it is not what he wanted? I would be grateful for any offer of advice. Would we have to pay for a solicitor if this could be challenged? Thank you.
Lea - 13-Mar-17 @ 8:01 AM
My sister, niece & I have taken care of my uncle first the past 15 years. I took care of all his paperwork when necessary & I organised my Aunts funeral when she passed away. My uncle was very wealthy & always said that we would be taken care of. We pleaded with him about making a will as he refused to have any contact with his surviving brother or nephews/niece's, he never did want contact with his side of the family, I don't know why. He told my sister that everything was in order & where to find his documents in the event of anything happening to him. A week ago he was taken into hospital critically I'll & signed a paper naming my sister as next of kin. He gave stricked instructions to the staff that there was to be no contact whatsoever with his family. He pleaded with us not to leave him so we stayed with him & slept beside his bed all week. Sadly he passed away in the early hours of Sunday morningwith us holding his hands. We were devastated. When we went to collect his documents we found he had written his last wishes on a piece of paper, leaving his estate to our family. Unfortunately, he did not sign the paper & there were no witness signatures, I was mortified. My sister has seen a solicitor but under the law my uncles family shall inherit the estate & we shall receive nothing. Again we are devastated on top of grieving, his family think the news is wonderful, my heart is broken. All I can say to you all is PLEASE MAKE A WILL, don't put your loved ones through what we are experiencing. We have no rights & certainly not the money to even try to fight the decision in court. Thanking you for listening & may I wish you all love & good health for the future.
Lea - 24-Feb-17 @ 9:24 PM
Me and my husband find yourselfs in a mess with my sister in laws will, she has dementia and my husband has court of protection and therefore could obtain a copy of her will, it came and to our horror she's not updated her will since 1991, and my husband's ex wife is an executive as well as my husband has they were married at the time, we have been together 22years and we both look after my sister in law and know she wouldn't have wanted this especially since they divorced and she would be horrified at the mistake she's made, she's in a nursing home and my husband's obviously upset has she's also left her jewelery too his ex wife. We are both stunned.
Maggie - 20-Feb-17 @ 7:50 PM
hi can anyone help my sister is refusing to sign the oaththere is no will been found we have been applying to probate with both my sisters and myself as executors but the solicitor has stated that two can move forward as executors we have endless trouble with my sister she refuses to sign an oath.And the solicitor has said myself and my other sister can go forward for probate without her ,but has said that she is still entitledto here equal share of the estate is this correct.
stef - 27-Jan-17 @ 1:20 PM
Our dad passed away august 2016 my step mom passed in 2011 her son bullied my dad n he gave him more than his share of will I'm an executor n my dad tried to get hold of his stepson to get him off will but was terminally ill very quickly now the solicitor I employed to help is trying to penny pinch it's been five month now n nothing n even tho the other executor had a big chunk now he is after half of wats left which isn't alot he's a police officer surely him threatening my dad n takin money is a fraudulent offence can anyone help me understand where this is right n solicitor making it all bout the step brother who is not blood related n all my dad's bank have said he's incompetent as did will people wat can I do now v
Angel - 16-Jan-17 @ 6:57 PM
strech- Your Question:
I want to know if I would be in line for executor if my husband for reason got sick. I am his POA and we are legally married.

Our Response:
The person makes the Will usually names the executor(s).If no executors are named, family members are entitled to apply for a Grant of Probate to allow them to administer your estate.
TheWillExpert - 16-Jan-17 @ 11:15 AM
I want to know if I would be in line for executor if my husband for reason got sick. I am his POA and we are legally married.
strech - 15-Jan-17 @ 4:18 AM
My sister died I understand there was a will. My daughter and our cousin was executors. My brother in law has not included them and said everything went to him. Should they have carried out their excecuters role before the estate went to my brother in law
Helen - 30-Dec-16 @ 8:47 PM
Hi my mum has dementia and I have been caring for her full time for years. My brother has helped for the last few months but has decided he doesn't want to do it anymore and wants me to put her in a nursing home. I want to continue caring for her at home...I live next door but one to her. I am the executor of the will and my brother is named as receiving 30% on her death as he has been absent from our lives for the past 20 years. As I need to sleep at my mums I am never sleeping in my home now I am caring solely for her. I am considering selling both mine and my mums house and buying a bungalow, converting the garage into a bedroom and bathroom for my mum then at least I am sleeping in my own house at night. Will I need to get permission from my absent brother or can I just go ahead and sell without telling him as after my mums death the new house will be solely in my name therefore he won't be getting his 30%. I did say that putting my mum in a home would use all her money and that he would get nothing but he says he doesn't want a penny. I am determined to keep on caring for my mum at home but need to move to make life slightly easier.
Ditzy - 29-Dec-16 @ 3:51 PM
My daughter's father lived and died in Turkey. He is British but only has assets in Turkey. How can my daughter prove from the Uk that she is the only child? We have to apply for probate in a Turkish court with documentation from the Uk. I divorced him 10 years ago so I have no claim on the estate. She is the only beneficiary, he did not remarry.
Dinki - 23-Dec-16 @ 8:33 PM
Sadly my father passed away in 1998 and left a Will - however I was told nothing was left too me and at the time I didn't question this,and to be frank why would you when it comes from people you trust!I now know I was left monies by my late Father 19 years ago.Can I bring legal proceedings against those who dishonest in their actions i.e the executor of the will since they failed to tell me? is this fraudulent? Many thanks
Cookie2016 - 15-Dec-16 @ 8:14 PM
Good day, My fiance passed away, and left entire estate to mee, I am also the executrix, I have a problem with the ex wife, she retired uses to sign the deed of salee in aid for the property to be sold, after she let my attorney know that she no longer wants to buy the property, it's will be 6 months of his passing on the 8th of December is year, please advise as to what I can do in this sitiarion. Kind regards. Val.
Val - 6-Dec-16 @ 4:53 PM
My mother in law is at the end of life and is in a nursing home. My husband and brother in law are named executors. The problem is my sister in law has all the bank cards and info and we suspect she is accessing the little money that mum has. Can the executors request that she submits the cards for safe keeping so they know she's not using the money?
TracyP - 28-Nov-16 @ 7:49 PM
Hi I have power of ottourney for my dad ,also I am executor of his will. Do I have to apply for probate cert before I can sell his house and share this between my sister and myself.There are no family disputes
Linett - 27-Nov-16 @ 9:27 AM
Can anyone help this situation. My partners mum has died 3 weeks ago. And the eldest one is a bully. My mother in law had told me that. The 2 eldest were executors of her will. Only my man has not even been told by his brother that he is. He wasn't invited to choose the coffin. Or anything to do with the funeral. He has made threats. And told my man that he needs a police escort when they go for the reading of the will which was yesterday. He never went, but found out later that he was/isan executor. One of the sisters has been in and cleared the money out of their mums bedroom. And changed the locks on her front door. The letter she wrote to them all has been doctored. And blatantly. There's all sorts been left out of it. He brought copies of the letter. And not the original. Anyone could have doctored this. He has done it to hide what he doesn'twant the others to see. Also the eldest girl is half owner of the house and she has been locked out too. Where does he go from here. Can he also change the locks to keep them out too. ? They've got what they want from the house. He has threatened that we're all getting a visit from a crew that's going to kick our front doors in. Where do we go from here.
Marg - 26-Nov-16 @ 9:54 AM
many thanks it probley cost more than my share with solistors i just take it on the chin lol many thanks again
taz - 20-Oct-16 @ 10:50 AM
taz - Your Question:
Also my sister part executer has stolen from her bank accounts bought things of amazon leading upto her death and on the day of her death when she was dead took money out of bank accounts and post office and also that I notifed the day of letter when sent from the bank say about the withdrawals to the solisitor and she has copys of the withdrawals aswell would I have a case as ive been in contact with the older sister and she is willing to go to court and testeyfi that she was my older sister what I told was true and also my sister has under oath changed her name the part executer to my mums will I need help ugent many thanks taz

Our Response:
You should take all your documents and information to a Citizen's Advice Bureau or a solicitor. There's too much detail and it sounds like too complex a situation for us to be any help in a simple response on here.
TheWillExpert - 19-Oct-16 @ 11:18 AM
also my sister part executer has stolen from her bank accounts bought things of amazon leading upto her death and on the day of her death when she was dead took money out of bank accounts and post office and also that i notifed the day of letter when sent from the bank say about the withdrawals to the solisitor and she has copys of the withdrawals aswell would i have a case as ive been in contact with the older sister and she is willing to go to court and testeyfi that she was my older sister what i told was true and also my sister has under oath changed her name the part executer to my mums will i need help ugent many thanks taz
taz - 18-Oct-16 @ 12:36 AM
please can anyone help me my mum told me that my sister my eldised was killed in a car crash 20 years ago and my mother and sister lied to me and i have become joint executer with the sister in qestion how do i appoch the solistor with my findings please as im not shore i will get pinnerlised or fined for this i have found her alive and well what can i do and how would i stand as i have never done this inter life as when my dad died i was kept out of it the will so i never new much as my mum was very disonied person and the sister who is joint executer was a composive liyer please help i dont no what to do
taz - 17-Oct-16 @ 10:51 PM
katelea - Your Question:
My mother in laws will was left to my daughter her uncle, father and her. the uncle died first then her father then her nan all in 8 months. the solicitor has told her that her uncle and fathers share has to be shared out with her other siblings even tho they died before their mother is this true how can dead people inherit ?

Our Response:
This will normally depend on how the Will was worded but in general, if the potential beneficiary has died by the time the Will becomes relevant and that person was a child of the deceased (as is the case with your daughter's father and uncle), then their entitlement is shared between their own living children (ie. the grandchildren of the deceased).
TheWillExpert - 3-Oct-16 @ 11:20 AM
my mother in laws will was left to my daughter her uncle, father and her. the uncle died first then her father then her nan all in 8 months . the solicitor has told her that her uncle and fathers share has to be shared out with her other siblings even tho they died before their mother is this true how can dead people inherit ?
katelea - 1-Oct-16 @ 12:18 AM
My sister recently died and was a joint executor of my mothers estate.Does the money that my sister would of have received now go toher husband when my mother dies?
hessie - 23-Sep-16 @ 9:55 PM
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