Executors are the people who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes and for sorting out the estate. They will have to collect together all the assets of the estate, deal with all the paperwork and pay all the debts, taxes, funeral and administration costs out of money in the estate. They will need to pay out the gifts and transfer any property to beneficiaries.
Who to choose as executors
It is not necessary to appoint more than one executor although it is advisable to do so, for example, in case one of them dies. It is common to appoint two, but up to four executors can take on responsibility for administering the will after a death. The people most commonly appointed as executors are:-
 relatives or friends
 solicitors or accountants
 in England and Wales, the Public Trustee or in some cases the Official Solicitor if there is no one else willing and able to act.
It is important to choose executors with considerable care since their job involves a great deal of work and responsibility. You should always approach anyone you are thinking of appointing as an executor to see if they will agree to take on the responsibility. If someone is appointed who is not willing to be an executor, they have a right to refuse.
If an executor dies, any other surviving executor(s) can deal with the estate. If there are no surviving executors, legal advice should be sought
The Burden Of An Executor
If a loved one has asked you to be an executor of their Last Will and Testament, you need to carefully consider whether or not you are prepared to take on the role. It involves a substantial amount of work, and can be something of a burden at a time when you are trying to come to terms with your loss.
As an appointed executor, you will be responsible for administering your loved one’s estate upon their death. If he or she had very few assets, or owned everything jointly with a husband or wife, the procedure may be a relatively simple one. If, however, it is necessary to go through the probate process, your duties will become considerably more complex.
Along with the other executors (there may be four in total) you must locate all the assets of your loved one’s estate and value its collective worth. This can include bank accounts, property, furniture and other possessions. If the total exceeds the current threshold for inheritance tax you must arrange payment with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. If you are yet to sell off certain assets, you may have to delve into your own savings to cover the costs. In the meantime you must apply for a Grant of Probate, going through the courts to obtain a Grant of Representation. You must pay for the funeral expenses, ensure any outstanding debts are paid off, and distribute the estate amongst the beneficiaries named in the Will.
It is, as you can appreciate, a daunting job. And while your loved one will have nominated you because you are in a position of trust, many do so without realising the enormity of the task. Nevertheless, there is no reason why you should labour on alone. If you are struggling to cope with the pressure of being an executor, there is nothing stopping you from seeking assistance. Whether you are at the outset of the probate process or halfway through, we can help you. This will ensure you have the proper legal support and guidance you need, taking a weight off your shoulders at what will already be a difficult time.
For more information about this or any aspect of our Wills and Probate service please call us on 01926 484488