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The Benefits of Appointing Professional Executors in Your Will

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Posted on 25 Feb 2021

An executor is a person or organisation of your choosing who has the responsibility of administering your estate on your death in accordance with the rule of law and in distributing your assets as per the terms of your Will.  Choosing your Executors is an extremely important decision and must not be taken lightly.

Losing a loved one is always an extremely difficult time. For family members, dealing with various institutions/providers and adhering to certain legal duties and timeframes may be quite a daunting prospect especially in the immediate aftermath of losing a loved one.

It is possible for clients to appoint a professional executor such as their solicitor. A professional executor can relieve family members of the responsibility and can save a lot of time and strife further down the line, particularly if your estate is complex or your family situation is not straight forward.

Further, should an Executor fail to administer an estate properly, they can often be held personally liable should any liabilities be missed, or should a claim be made against the estate and certain safeguarding measures have not been undertaken. For this reason, some lay Executors are not prepared to accept their appointment.

A professional executor will also have the required expertise to deal with your estate. There are many complex matters which need to be undertaken during an estate administration such as calculating the deceased’s lifetime and death tax liability, obtaining professional valuations, declaring information to HM Revenue & Customs, applying for certain reliefs/exemptions, obtaining a grant of representation,  selling property, managing investments, setting up trusts, and in generally finalising and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. By appointing a professional executor, your beneficiaries can be reassured that all matters will be dealt with correctly and diligently.

Unfortunately, disputes amongst family members are common particularly during times of emotional distress following a bereavement. Disputes and disagreements can cause difficulties in the administration of an estate, especially if, for example, the beneficiaries and Executor do not get along.  This would create an extremely difficult situation for all those involved.

A professional executor can also ensure that all matters are dealt with impartially and in the best interests of the estate and the beneficiaries.  Should your beneficiaries have queries, a professional Executor would have all the expertise and knowledge to answer those queries and put the beneficiaries minds at rest in what will likely be a very difficult time for them especially if they are coming to terms with losing a loved one.

It is worth noting that should you appoint a friend or family member as your Executor and at the date of your death, they are unable/unwilling to act, the Non-contentious Probate Rules will set out who is entitled to act as your Personal Representative. In some cases, this responsibility may fall to someone who you would not want to administer your estate. Further, if they act inappropriately and not in the best interests of the beneficiaries, or should they delay administering the estate,  the process of removing a Personal Representative can be lengthy, costly and distressing for all of those involved.

The benefits of appointing a professional executor were highlighted in the case Pu Liu v Tibor Matyas 2020. The case concerned a businessman with an estate valued at approximately £920,000.00. The deceased’s partner and brother were appointed as Executors under the terms of his Will.

Unfortunately, the executors failed to see eye to eye. The brother launched legal proceedings on the basis that the partner had refused to take part in the administration process and was deliberately delaying dealing with matters. After lengthy court proceedings and costs running into tens of thousands of pounds, the Judge eventually appointed a professional firm of solicitors to act as the Executors.

Sometimes, clients are concerned about the potential costs of appointing a professional Executor. In most cases, there is little or no difference between the cost of appointing professional Executors and lay Executors appointing a solicitor to act on their behalf. Also, the work is undertaken as cost-effectively as possible. The benefits of appointing a professional Executor far outweigh the potential costs involved, particularly if there is a real risk of there being a dispute between beneficiaries which may result in court proceedings as mentioned above.

To avoid potentially difficult situations, it is important that you make your intentions regarding your estate clear, and put them into effect in the form of a valid will, as soon as possible. If you would like to discuss preparing a Will and also the benefits of appointing professional executors, please feel free to contact a member of our friendly, professional team on 01745 812835 .

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