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I’ve Been Named as an Executor - Do I have to act?

Following the death of a family member or a loved one, it can take time to grieve.

Grandfather, father and son planning for a gentler probate.

The time following a death can be filled up with commitments. Unfortunately, there are a number of formalities that have to be dealt with as part of the probate process. It is common for a surviving spouse to find themselves appointed as the executor of their partner’s Will. As a result, they are expected to handle, manage and deal with all the administrative tasks that come with death.

The role of executor should not be taken lightly

However, this is a time when their wellbeing is a priority and dealing with the practical aspects are likely to be a struggle. In the same way, children might also find it difficult if they experience the death of a parent and have to also deal with their estate. The role of an executor is not one that should be taken lightly and there are a wide variety of reasons why someone who has been appointed might prefer to not take on the role.

Are you obliged to take on the role of executor?

It is worth noting that if you have been appointed as an executor in a Will then there is no legal obligation to take on the role. You need to decide whether to act at an early stage as you cannot ‘renounce’ your position if you begin to act and then change your mind as this is called ‘intermeddling’. It is therefore really important that you take advice early on to fully understand the role and the obligations that are specific to your loved one’s estate.

Are there risks to being an executor?

Acting as an executor can be time consuming and brings an element of personal liability. If you act incorrectly in dealing with assets or liabilities, or not following the terms of a Will in relation to the distribution, setting up of any trusts or other binding obligations then you might find yourself liable for any losses. That said, you might find that you want to carry out the administration and that it helps with your grieving process.

It is possible to act as an executor but still get help ensuring you meet all the legal requirements. The important thing is doing what is right for you and ensuring you get good advice early on.


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