Should I appoint a professional executor?

Choosing your executors is an important decision.  They are responsible for ensuring your will is put into effect and your assets distributed correctly. Family members are often appointed to take on the task, but have you thought about the benefits of appointing a professional executor alongside?

Why appoint a professional executor?

Being an executor requires organisation, an aptitude for paperwork and good IT skills are a definite advantage.  Not everybody finds these tasks easy under normal circumstances, never mind when also dealing with bereavement. If your estate is large, complex, or contains a trust, your executors will hopefully instruct a solicitor for legal advice.  But, rather than relying on them to do so, you could appoint a solicitors’ firm of your choice as an executor instead.

Have you ever calculated the inheritance tax on an estate which includes business, agricultural or investment assets in excess of £5million, charitable and non-charitable beneficiaries, creditors to satisfy and grossing up calculations? Professional executors are trained to understand the complexities of these tasks, which can overwhelm even the most competent individual.

A solicitor’s firm never dies, loses mental capacity, or experiences life changes which means they are no longer willing to carry out the role.

Disputes and Arguments

With second marriages and separated parents, all too often rifts can develop in families. Challenging a will is becoming more and more common and executors can feel the pressure from family members about how they should be dealing with the estate. A professional executor will administer the estate impartially and in accordance with the law, without engaging in any arguments or feuds.

Executors need to be able to work together seamlessly to administer an estate. You are putting your trust in them to ensure that your beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to, so if you are in any doubt about their ability to work together, you should think carefully about who you are choosing.

Where did all the money go?…

Many executors do not understand the rules about holding money on behalf of beneficiaries and the requirements that come with this duty. Funds must be held separately and clear records made so that there cannot be any question about how the estate was administered. With fewer banks offering specialist executor and trustee accounts, individuals sometimes opt for mixing the estate funds into their own bank accounts, which is a big mistake!

Solicitors are heavily regulated and capable of holding funds on behalf of others in a secure client account. They must be transparent about the money that has been received and paid out and will produce a comprehensive record of the estate at the end of the administration. If there is ever any question about missing funds, there are methods of investigation into solicitor firms that are not available to everyday executors.

Appointing friends or family members may seem the automatic choice at first thought, however appointing a solicitor can be a cost effective, efficient appointment, avoiding conflict, saving distress and delay to those left behind.

The content of this post does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. The content is subject to change and we accept no liability for individuals relying on the information within this article.

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