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Executors – Why getting it right is so important.

When we mention preparing a Will, many individuals assume the only significant point to consider is who is going to receive what under your Will and how much.

This is of course vital, but so is the appointment of your Executors.

A newspaper recently reported on an Executor who was required to split the estate’s funds (£240,000) equally between two beneficiaries. Instead, he spent the funds on holidays, cars and other luxuries. He was given a chance to pay the money back but failed to, and their inheritance is now all but spent.

Who should I appoint as my Executor?

Individuals should always appoint executors who they can trust. There is no need to appoint a professional executor, unless your circumstances dictate this would be sensible.

Often a partner, close family member or friend is an appropriate choice. These are people that are most likely to be familiar with your assets and know you well enough to understand your wishes if anything unusual were to arise. Your executors will, during the course of the administration, need to liaise with your beneficiaries, so it is important that they are able to act fairly and impartially.

Some feel that appointing a professional executor is better suited to their circumstances. It is important to note that a professional executor will charge for their time, but it may be felt appropriate where, for example:

  • There is no-one else who could sensibly fill the role

  • There are difficult family relations and a professional executor could be inserted as a counterbalance to the other executors

  • You have a close relationship with your professional adviser and feel more confident if they were to be part of the process

  • Your assets are particularly complex to administer for example, certain business interests

Woods Legal would suggest appointing a minimum of two individuals but you can have up to four Executors.

What if my executors find the probate process difficult?

If you decide to appoint non-professionals as Executors they are still free to seek legal advice regarding their duties and how to administer the Estate.

Woods Legal often act for Executors on this capacity and undertake the following tasks on their behalf:-

  • Collecting in the deceased’s assets and settling any debts;

  • Calculating the inheritance tax and corresponding with H M Revenue & Customs;

  • Preparing the Executors’ Oath and applying for probate;

  • Distributing the assets in accordance with the terms of the will (or on intestacy);

  • Liaising with accountants regarding tax returns for the administration period; and

  • Preparing estate accounts.

When should I make changes to my Will?

Clients should remember that you can always change your mind and appoint different executors if circumstances change and the people you have appointment are no longer appropriate.

Woods Legal would suggest revisiting your Will periodically to ensure that it is up to date and reflects your current wishes.

For more information on Wills please contact us on 01903 41100 or via email

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