What Happens When A Solicitor Is An Executor Of A Will?
Choosing an ideal executor for your last will and testament is a crucial decision that requires careful consideration. In this guide, we explore the responsibilities of an executor and explain why some people opt to appoint a solicitor to carry out their final wishes.
Usually, family members or close friends will be entrusted with the role of executor. This means they will be responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in the will and managing the deceased’s estate. However, there are certain circumstances where appointing a solicitor as the executor can prove to be beneficial.
If, for example, your estate is particularly complex or if you find yourself without a suitable person to act on your behalf, it may be helpful to appoint a professional executor to administer your estate. Here, we explain the roles and responsibilities of an executor, what happens when a solicitor is an executor of a will, and the potential benefits of appointing one.
If you have any questions we have not answered, our expert probate solicitors are happy to speak to you regarding your probate query and provide the legal services you need. You can contact us by completing the enquiry form below or by calling 0151 666 9090.
What is an executor?
An executor is the person who takes responsibility for managing and administering the estate of someone who has passed away. Typically, one or two executors are chosen to carry out this important role, ensuring that the wishes outlined in the will are properly executed. There are both positives and negatives to consider when choosing more than one executor, as we explain in our blog post about who can be the executor of a will.
The role encompasses a wide range of responsibilities and often involves a substantial amount of work. The estate that executors are tasked with distributing includes all of the deceased's assets, such as their money, properties, and possessions.
The executor acts as the primary point of contact for all parties involved in the estate, including beneficiaries. They are also responsible for determining the estate's value, applying for probate (if necessary), and paying any outstanding debts and Inheritance Tax obligations. Because of the complications of this role and the work involved, it is sometimes worthwhile to appoint a professional executor alongside (or instead of) a friend or family member.
Can a solicitor be an executor?
Yes, a solicitor can be appointed as an executor of a will. While it is common to appoint family or friends as an executor, many people choose to appoint a solicitor as their executor to ensure that their estate is handled professionally and in accordance with their wishes. A solicitor's specialist knowledge can make it easier to apply for probate correctly and thereby make the process of distributing the estate more efficient. There are many circumstances under which you might appoint a professional executor, as we will outline below.
Why might you appoint your solicitor as your executor?
There are a number of scenarios where it may be advantageous to appoint a solicitor as your executor. These include situations such as:
Complex and high-value estates
If your estate is complicated and involves significant assets, appointing a professional executor, such as a solicitor, can ensure that the administration process is handled efficiently. Solicitors have the necessary expertise and experience to navigate complex legal and financial matters, minimising the risk of errors or oversights that a family member may make, and ensuring your financial affairs are managed in accordance with the law and your wishes.
No capable or willing family members/friends
In some cases, there may be no family members or friends within your immediate circle who are capable or willing to take on the role of executor. Appointing a solicitor as your executor ensures that your estate will be managed by a competent professional who can fulfil the required responsibilities.
Children living abroad or no children
If you have children who live abroad or if you have no children at all, appointing a solicitor as your executor can be beneficial for all parties. This ensures that the administration of your estate is handled in a timely manner, even in situations where family members may not be readily available or familiar with local legal requirements.
Leaving everything to charity
If your intention is to leave your entire estate to charitable organisations, appointing a solicitor as your executor can streamline the process. Solicitors are well-versed in the legal and administrative procedures involved in charitable bequests, ensuring that your wishes are carried out accurately and in compliance with relevant regulations. There are Inheritance Tax implications when you leave all the money and assets in your estate to charity, and professional executors can ensure that all of the legal requirements are met.
Risk of family disputes or litigation
In cases where you anticipate potential disputes or legal challenges from family members contesting the terms of your will, appointing a solicitor as your executor can provide a neutral and impartial party to handle potential disputes. This relieves your loved ones from being directly involved in contentious legal matters and protects them from the personal liabilities associated with potential litigation. Family tensions can also arise between named executors and a solicitor can liaise with all parties to the will so as to ensure that the legal terms of the will are met.
What are the benefits of appointing a solicitor as executor?
Appointing a solicitor as your executor offers several benefits. Here are the key advantages of choosing a solicitor as your executor:
Expertise: Solicitors possess an in-depth knowledge of estate administration and probate laws, ensuring your estate is handled correctly and efficiently. A will is a legal document and it may be difficult to interpret without this experience and knowledge.
Impartiality: Solicitors provide an impartial perspective, minimising potential disputes between beneficiaries. They can make decisions in the best interest of the estate and beneficiaries, according to the terms of the will.
Efficiency: Solicitors have the experience and resources to navigate estate administration tasks promptly and ensure deadlines and legal requirements are met.
Avoiding an estate with no executor: Appointing a solicitor ensures that the estate has an executor in place. In the event that the executor named in your will passes away before you and you fail to update your will, it can leave your estate without an appointed executor. This can cause significant problems.
Responsibility: Having your family or friends as named executors can put a considerable burden on them at an already stressful time. This stress can lead to the estate being left unattended for extended periods. By appointing a solicitor, your loved ones can be free from the lengthy tasks of managing the estate.
Peace of mind: Having a qualified professional manage estate administration provides peace of mind and relieves loved ones of additional responsibilities during a difficult time.
How can Percy Hughes & Roberts help?
At Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors, we have a team of dedicated wills and probate solicitors who are ready to help you resolve your query or issue relating to this area of the law as quickly and effectively as possible. Thanks to our experience, we can act as professional executors and manage the administration of your estate as efficiently as possible, freeing your loved ones from this responsibility.
Appointing a solicitor as your executor can offer numerous advantages when it comes to administering your estate. Their expertise in estate administration, legal knowledge, and impartiality can ensure that your final wishes are carried out efficiently, in a legally valid way, and in the best interests of the estate and beneficiaries.
We understand the importance of this role and are committed to ensuring that your wishes are respected, and your estate is handled with care and efficiency. If you would like to contact one of our expert wills and probate solicitors you can do so by calling 0151 666 9090 or by completing the “Get in touch” form on this site.