What is an Executor of a Will?

Executor v's Attorney and what do they do?

Executor - An Executor is the person you appoint to ensure the wishes in your Will are carried out.

Attorney - An Attorney is the person you appoint to make decisions for you whilst acting under a Power of Attorney whilst you are alive. Please DON'T get the term mixed up with an American Lawyer! Many people do get mixed up and think their 'Attorney' is the 'Executor' named in their Will - It isn't. Attorneys act whilst you are alive, Executors act only when you are dead!

The role of an Executor

Whilst this sounds simple, it isn't straightforward. If you've been appointed as Executor in a Will. It is important that you read and fully understand the Will as beneficiaries can make personal claims against you. It is your legal duty to comply with the law and established best practices, such as advertising for missing beneficiaries in the appropriate media. You are also strongly advised to consider taking out indemnity insurance. Because of the associated liability and workload, many Executors choose to engage a specialist firm such to do the work on their behalf. Even if you choose to do this the firm is likely to prepare the application forms in your own name. This means you, as Executors, are still liable for mistakes, for example, when unknown beneficiaries come out of the woodwork. Try to use a firm that takes out the Grant of Probate in THEIR name, not yours - that way they take on the liability.

At Northumberland Wills & Probate we only work with companies that take on that responsibility in THEIR own name not yours.

You can of course do-it-yourself; the advantage is there are no direct fees but the disadvantage is the amount of time it takes to contact all the organisations, complete a tax return and wind-up the deceased's affairs. The average is about 80 hours of work for which you cannot be paid. And where there is more than one beneficiary, the savings are spread across all of them but generally it's one Executor does all the work they. Any fees incurred by using a professional are taken out of the estate before anything is passed to beneficiaries, so no one loses out unfairly.

For free information about being an executor, or for our free advice booklet then give us a call on 01670 788200.