Surprise… You’re an Executor!

When writing your Will, you must appoint at least one executor. An executor is a person named in your Will who will carry out your wishes and distribute your estate. when you die.  “Estate” is everything you own, including money, property and possessions at the date of your death.

Throughout the process of making a Will I encourage clients to talk to their named executors so that they are aware that they have been named and what their responsibilities will be. It is also a good idea to let them know where your Will is in the event of your death. However, it is not compulsory that you do so, and for some executors it comes as a surprise at a difficult time when they are grieving for the loss of a loved one.

If you are a first-time executor, it can seem like a very daunting process and it would not be unusual for you to look for options. There are several you can consider:

  1. APPOINT A SPECIALIST TO HELP – There are specialists in probate who can act on your behalf is appointed – these are usually a solicitor, accountant or a qualified Will writer. Although this service can help make the process a lot simpler it does incur fees, and these will be payable from the estate.
  • RENOUNCE THE ROLE – No executor is forced to act, if you decide that you are unable to do so you can formally step down from the role by renunciation which must be submitted in writing and lodged with the probate registry. This is a signed and witnessed document and should be drafted by a professional.
  • WORK AS A TEAM (OR CREATE ONE) – If more than one executor has been appointed you can work together as a team or ask them to act for the estate whilst you take a back seat. If you are the only executor appointed, you could make an application to the court for someone else to be appointed as an administrator as well. 
  • ASK FOR ADVICE – If you are not sure what to do next or where to turn you can ask for help and advice. You can contact me at ALH Legal Will Writers (see contact details below) – even if I have not made the original Will or you can contact the Society of Will Writers as an independent advisory body.

So, if you do find yourself in this situation, don’t panic – there are always options available to you.