The following is a guest post contributed by Andy Woodbridge:
An Executor can be very helpful in the initial days after a death. They can help to obtain and disseminate a will or directive, and can also make decisions on how to handle funeral arrangements and more.
It is vital that an executor be assigned well in advance of end of life. This can help to ensure that one less decision has to be made in the event of an unfortunate terminal illness or fatal injury. Agreeing to be an executor of estate can be an excellent way to pay tribute to a loved one, family member, or dear friend.
Who Can Be Assigned the Executor of Estate Position?
In the United Kingdom, anyone can be assigned the executor of estate position. This is true even if the person stands to benefit from the will itself through monetary or material gains. There are only a few simple rules to clarify who may or may not be assigned as an executor of estate.
All executors must be at least 18 years of age or older at the time that they enter they begin to act as executor. Younger teens may be assigned as executor, but may only act as an executor if the death occurs after their 18th birthday. In this instance, a second executor should be designated to protect from sudden occurrences prior to that date. Executors must also be of sound mind, and should be able to make decisions both quickly and with thorough consideration.
Rescinding the Executor of Estate Position
The executor of estate position can be rescinded, but it is exceptionally difficult to do so. Before you accept such a position, you should consider that it is normally assigned for life. There is no shame in refusing the position; it comes with plenty of responsibility and can be extremely time-consuming. You should be honest and forthright with your ability to enact decisions and executor responsibilities. Whenever possible, this decision should be discussed at length with the person for whom you will act as executor.
Depending on whether you are the only executor, it may be a legal requirement that you assign another executor in your place. This, too, is a decision that must be undertaken with great care. It is advisable that you consult with a solicitor before appointing anyone as an executor of estate.
In certain areas of the United Kingdom, such as Northern Ireland, you can only rescind the position and appoint a new executor if you are able to prove that you cannot handle your own affairs. This is exceptionally rare, and is generally proven only when you are judged incapable of making decisions.
In most areas, a Renunciation of Probate form is required. This form must be filled out in order to begin the process. The Renunciation of Probate can be downloaded online for free, and can then be printed off.
Executor of Estate Alternatives
In some cases, assigning an appropriate executor may be difficult or impossible. This is where professional executor services come in. Professional executor services can be enacted to allow for execution of estates without an individual needing to act as executor specifically. These services can also be effective when estates are particularly large.
Several other options are available to provide an executor in extenuating circumstances:
- Up to four executors can be assigned to share duties
- A solicitor may be able to act as an executor
- Anyone may apply to be executor through a letter of administration
Always Outline Executors Within Your Will
Assigning an executor of estate should be undertaken as early as possible. The same is true for the creation of a will; there are many advantages to creating a will early in life. This can provide for a fail-safe in the event of sudden fatal illnesses or accidents. While few enjoy thinking about their death in advance, it is important to do so.
A will is not something to be feared; rather, it should be discussed matter-of-factly with those you love to ensure that your estate is distributed fairly and in a manner that you agree with. A good solicitor can help to ensure that all of your most important wishes are followed. Click here for further probate advise.
Updated: January 11, 2014