Who would you trust to be the Executor of your Will?

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Your Executor is the person who carries out the wishes set out in your Will after your death.

It is a big responsibility to give to someone and it is a job which can take months or years to complete.  In fact, the role is for life because if another asset turns up in years to come it is the Executor’s responsibility to deal with this correctly.

Most Executors take the job seriously and deal with the estate correctly.  However, Court figures show a 300% increase in 2013 in claims against Executors for the mishandling of estates.

It is thought that the increase in claims could be due to people appointing friends, family or acquaintances to be their Executors, who either deliberately or negligently deal with an estate incorrectly.  For example, an Executor might:

  • deliberately or accidentally pay out more money to one beneficiary than they are due under the Will;
  • steal money or assets from an estate;
  • fail to keep proper records;
  • fail to protect the assets;
  • fail to obtain best value for the assets on sale or transfer;
  • charge for the time they spend (which only professional Executors are entitled to do); or
  • mix estate money with their own.

Your choice of Executor is a vital step in ensuring that your estate is dealt with correctly and you should appoint someone who could be described as:

  • good with paperwork;
  • good with money;
  • motivated to sort things out;
  • and, most importantly, trustworthy

While you may choose non-professional Executors such as friends, family or acquaintances because you think this would save on legal fees, in fact this can expose your estate to a greater risk of mismanagement.  This is particularly the case if your wishes are complex, your estate is large or if your family is likely to disagree with your wishes.  Any money your estate could potentially have saved in initial legal charges would soon be outweighed by the cost of Court applications to remove the Executors and to repair the damage done.

One way this could be protected against is by your Executors employing a firm of solicitors, such as Ashtons Legal, to assist in managing the administration of the estate.  Another option is for you to appoint professional Executors in your Will, such as the partners of Ashtons Legal.

If you would like advice on appointing Executors or writing a Will, or if you have concerns about how an existing estate is being handled, please contact Janette Wand of Ashtons Legal on 01473 261344 or email her at janette.wand@ashtonslegal.co.uk



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