Naming, or being named an executor of a will is an important responsibility. It means becoming familiar with the many responsibilities that being an executor entails. So who can be named as an executor, and can you renounce an executorship? We will answer these and many more questions in this post. Write a will.

What Does It Mean To Execute A Will?

When you write a will, you will need to nominate “executors”; these are the people you nominate to carry out your wishes after you die. They will be responsible for winding up your affairs and administering your estate after you’ve died. This includes applying for a grant of probate (if needed), selling and transferring assets, paying off any liabilities, and distributing your estate according to your wishes. Read about the different types of will available here.

There is a lot involved in being an executor, and choosing who to appoint is an important decision.

For initial advice about how to write a will, call our will writers today on 0)161 528 4200 

Who Can Execute A Will?

In England and Wales an executor must be over 18 when you die. They must also have the mental capability to do the job. Your executor could be a friend, family member or a professional (such as a solicitor). 

There’s no rule against people named in your will as beneficiaries being your executors. In fact, this is very common.

Up to four executors can act at a time, but they all have to act jointly. So it might not be practical to appoint that many people.

It’s a good idea to choose two executors in case one of them dies before you do. Another issue might be that they ‘renounce probate’ if they do not want the job. If an executor dies, any other surviving executor(s) can deal with the estate. It is possible to name a replacement executor in your Will in case one of the executors cannot act. 

The role of an executor is a serious one which carries a lot of responsibility. It must be someone you trust.

What Is Probate?

What is probate? ‘Probate’ is the term used to describe the legal and financial processes involved in dealing with and distributing the assets of a person who has died. Sometimes permission must be sought in order to distribute their estate in accordance with their will or clear their debts.

The person who carries out probate duties is known as the ‘Executor’, and they are usually named in the will. 

The necessity of probate depends entirely on the value of the assets and the way in which assets were held (in joint names or in the deceased name only). Probate is often necessary if a property was owned and/or money was held in certain bank accounts. Most financial institutions have set limits above which probate is required. 

Generally speaking, probate is usually required when a person who dies owned one or more of the following:

  • Money held in a financial institution, of which each has its own limit ranging from £5,000 to £75,000.
  • stocks or shares
  • certain insurance policies
  • property / land owned in their name or as ‘tenants in common’

Tips On Appointing Executors

Not everybody will want to be an executor. Before making a will, think carefully about who you are going to appoint. To help you decide, here are some tips for appointing executors:

1. Talk To The Possible Nominees


You are able to choose up to four executors. Before you write a will, have a conversation with each of your chosen executors. Make sure they are happy to take on the role. Being an executor can be a lot of work. Some people might prefer not to be appointed. If they are willing, the fact that you have spoken with them means it will not come as a surprise in the future.

2. Appoint People You Trust

An executor will need to deal with your personal assets, things that hold significant financial and emotional value. Also, executors have a legal duty to act in the best interests of the estate, not their own personal interest. For these reasons, you must appoint people you trust

3. Consider A Professional Executor

Some estates will be particularly complex. There may be Inheritance Tax to pay, properties to sell, or foreign assets to deal with. This can require specialist knowledge and take up a lot of time.

There can also be conflict between family members. Each may have differing opinions on the correct approach to take. If you think a neutral third party dealing with your estate would be beneficial, you can always nominate a legal professional in your will to act as an executor.

Alternatively, your executors may seek help from specialist probate solicitors after your death to assist with the administration of the estate. Having the help of a legal professional can give you the peace of mind that an estate is being administered correctly, removing the responsibility from family and friends.

What An Executor Cannot Act?

Sometimes an executor will no longer be able to carry out the role. In these situations, it is important to update your will to reflect the change in circumstances. Otherwise when you die, one of your beneficiaries will be asked to step in to do this work instead. This may not be the person you would have wanted to deal with your affairs.

We recommend appointing more than one executor to mitigate this risk. An executor may be appointed to administer the estate either solely or jointly with another person. If an executor is appointed to act alone, it’s still possible to name a second person as a substitute executor, who can step in to act if the first executor is unable to.

If multiple executors are appointed to act jointly, this means they all need to make decisions together. Another option is to appoint multiple executors to act ‘jointly and severally’ meaning they can make decisions together and independently of one another.

If multiple executors are appointed, they can either administer the estate together or one executor can choose not to act. The appointment of more than one executor will usually ensure that there is at least one executor who can act if something were to happen to the other.

However, Appointing more than one executor to act jointly can sometimes make it difficult for them to agree on everything. This can lead to unpleasant disputes. Consider this when appointing joint executors in your will. 

Write A Will

Will writing is an important step to ensure that your family is protected in the event of your death.

Having no Will or an invalid Will, can cause difficulties for your loved ones after your death. Your belongings, including any

 may not go to the people that you intended to benefit from it.

A Will is one of the most important legal documents you will ever write in your life. It states what you want to happen to your money, belongings and property on your death. Do you really want the Law to decide how your belongings are distributed? A Will is also a vital tool for Inheritance Tax planning. Get in touch today for free advice.


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