As long as a will is valid its terms must be followed whether the surviving family and friends are pleased with them or not. The person chosen to make sure that these terms are carried out is known as the executor and is named specifically in the will. In some cases, several executors may be named such as in the case of naming a number or firm of solicitors, though usually no more than 4 executors will be named in any will.
The Executor s Responsibilities
Being named the executor of someone s estate, and thus executing the terms of his or her will, is often complex and time consuming. Just a few of the responsibilities that an executor usually undertakes include announcing the death, both to family and in written announcements, obtaining the medical certificate stating the cause of death, registering the death, organising the funeral, burial or cremation, gathering and documenting the estate, obtaining a grant of probate (best done with the help of a solicitor), paying any taxes on the estate, dealing with debts owed by or to the deceased, and finally distributing the remaining contents of the estate in accordance with the terms of the will. If issues come up in the future regarding the deceased s estate, the executor will still be the person responsible for dealing with them. In fact, once an executor is named, this individual will remain the executor of the deceased s estate for the rest of his or her life – unless (s)he notifies the Probate Registry to the contrary.
Stepping Down as an Executor
An executor may wish to step down from this role for a number of reasons, such as ill health, lack of time, or even because (s)he is in disagreeance with or bringing a claim against the terms of the will. In fact, if an executor can not remain absolutely neutral regarding the terms of the will and the administration and distribution of the estate, it is better that (s)he steps down and allows another to fulfil this role. If an executor does decide to step down, (s)he must notify the Probate Registry in writing as this event and the appointment of another administrator will need to be documented.
Applying to be an Executor
If an individual wishes to be an executor but was not named in the will, an application can be made to the Probate Registry for an administrative grant. If such an application is successful then a grant of representation will be issued to appoint the individual as a personal representative to administer the deceased s estate. This grant may also be called a letter of administration with will if there is a valid will be no executor is otherwise acting.
Assistance for Executors
As executing a will can be a long and difficult process, executors should engage assistance from solicitors, professional financial advisors or a Citizens Advice Bureau as needed. Costs that the executor incurs while carrying out the responsibilities of this role may be covered (usually reimbursed at a later date) from the estate.
The role of the executor is integral to wrapping up the deceased s affairs, dealing with legal issues arising due to the death, and finally distributing the deceased s estate as (s)he wished. Unfortunately this role can be time consuming, frustrating and sometimes close to impossible to carry out without professional assistance. Consulting an experienced solicitor, professional financial advisor or a Citizen s Advice Bureau is advised.