Why Should I Name A Solicitor As Executor Of My Will?

Executors are the people who will wind up your affairs after your death. You can have up to four Executors and you appoint them under the terms of your Will. You can ask friends and family members. Or, you can ask a professional, such as a solicitor.

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By Nicola Briggs - 17th August 2021

It may be preferrable to name a solicitor as an Executor if you have a complex estate, there is a risk of litigation, or there is no one willing and able to act. Solicitors are trained in all aspects of estate administration and can navigate the process in accordance with the law.

Who should I name as an Executor?

Executors are the people who will wind up your affairs after your death. You can have up to four Executors and you appoint them under the terms of your Will. You can ask friends and family members. Or, you can ask a professional, such as a solicitor.

Whoever you choose, they need to be over the age of 18, young enough to see it through and likely to have their full mental faculties when the time comes to exercise their duties. An estate administration can take two years and, in some cases, longer to complete.

You should ask your potential Executors if they are willing to take on the role. Clearly if they are also beneficiaries, they are more likely to accept. If you ask a work colleague to take on the role and then leave everything to charity, he or she may not be much pleased with the amount of work they have to do for nothing. This may well lead to them stepping down from the role midway through the administration.

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Appointing a professional Executor

The appointment of a professional Executor is more appropriate in estates which:

  • Are complex and high in value
  • Have nobody within the family who is capable or willing to act
  • Have no children or the children live abroad
  • Leave everything to charity
  • There is a risk of a family dispute with somebody contesting the terms of the Will. You may be worried that it is not fair to put a loved one in the firing line of a litigious relative.

You can appoint a loved one in conjunction with a firm of solicitors where you feel they will need support in withstanding the pressures of potential litigation, an unending pile of paperwork and the risk of personal liability should they make a mistake. Or you can appoint the solicitors on their own.

It is possible to appoint a firm rather than a named solicitor. The advantage of doing so is that the Executorship will follow through the partnership. Solicitors retire themselves, but where the firm is named, then two members of that firm will make the application so the estate is never left without an Executor, which can be the case where individuals are chosen who then pass away before the person who named them. You can be sure that there will be a successor within the law practice to take on the role.

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Cost of using a professional Executor

An Executor can ask a solicitor for help during the probate and estate administration process. The Executor must agree the legal fees before work starts.

Where solicitors act as Executors, they are expected to discuss their charges with the person who is writing their Will. There will be additional charges over and above those charged to a client who has asked for assistance as Executor. This is because taking on the role of Executor involves extra responsibility and risk, for which the solicitors are entitled to be reimbursed. This may still end up being the cheaper option, if the Executor appointed mixes the estate money with their own, cannot satisfy the requirements of beneficiaries who are charities and then has to have the administration unpicked to set it back on the right path.

Solicitors are trained in all aspects of taxation within an administration and will recognise at an early stage where the pitfalls lie. A legal expert will manoeuvre around those pitfalls to secure an administration that is in accordance with the law.

Asking a professional Executor to renounce their position

If your beneficiaries are unhappy with the choice of solicitor, it is open to them all to request the solicitor Executor to renounce their responsibilities and for family members to take over the role. The solicitor will look at the notes taken at the time the Will was written to see if there are any special reasons why they should hold on to the administration. If there are not, then it is standard practice to comply with the wishes of the beneficiaries, as no solicitor wishes to work in adversarial conditions where the beneficiaries are impeding his or her work.

Speak to our solicitors

If you like, you can name Aticus Law as a professional Executor. First, we’ll discuss what's best in your particular set of circumstances, offering tailor-made legal advice.

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