Should You Agree to be an Executor of a Will?

Woman in purple coat at funeral

How Difficult is it to be Executor of a Loved One's Will?

Being asked to be the executor of a will can come with a vast array of responsibilities and difficulties. You should think carefully before agreeing to take on this challenging role.

If you are asked by a loved one to be the executor of their will, it can be difficult to know what answer to give. Obviously you want to help the ones you love, but how much risk and complication is involved with accepting this position?

What Is An Executor?

A person appoints an executor to handle the distribution of their estate in line with their wishes in the event of their death, and take charge of any additional requests they may have. It is normal for a person to appoint more than one executor. It is a position that entails a lot of personal responsibility, and should not be taken lightly. The Money Advice Service provides some more detailed information on the responsibilities.

What Would You Have To Do?

As an executor, you will need to understand all of the conditions of the will. You will also need to be able to identify all of the beneficiaries stated in the will. If the family refuse or are unable to arrange the funeral and/or disposal of the body, this will fall under your responsibilities.

Another role of the executor is to file appropriate inheritance tax returns, to include the assets and liabilities of the deceased. It is often necessary at this stage to seek advice from a professional, especially in terms of appropriate allowances and reliefs for these tax returns.

If there is a disagreement about the will, of if the will is changed, as executor you will be required to gain appropriate advice from professionals and follow through with a court case if necessary, this can be very costly.

What To Consider Before Agreeing

It is obviously a sign of trust and respect for somebody to request that you act as an executor on their behalf. However it is not a decision that should be taken without a great deal of research.

There are many articles online that can talk you through the process, it is advisable to read through as many of these as you can so you can be sure that you fully understand the responsibilities you will be taking on.

People often employ a professional solicitors alongside a friend or relative to act as executors, it is sensible to ask if your loved one will be doing this as it can be a great help to you. Be aware that the process may take several years-it is not a gentle undertaking and can involve great stress and substantial costs in some cases.

You may not realise how complex your duties may be and what exactly the person's estate consist of. Do not be afraid to ask questions and ensure that you have all of the relevant information before deciding whether or not to take on this responsibility. It is now recommended that you take out executor protection insurance, to cover yourself in the event of a dispute.

Should I Agree?

Ultimately this is your choice. It can be uncomfortable to refuse such a personal request from a loved one. However they need to know that their estate is in the hands of somebody that is aware of the responsibilities and can be trusted to carry them out over as long as it takes. If you have been asked, it is because your friend or relative trusts you above all others to carry out the task in a fair and professional manner. For this reason alone, most people happily accept. However, problems can arise and old family disputes can rise up and sour an already sad occasion.

If you are not sure you are willing or able to take on this role, then it is advisable to tell your loved one immediately so that they can make alternative arrangements that will benefit them and their beneficiaries.

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