Executors are appointed in a Will to carry out the administration of the deceased’s estate. Their role includes gathering in all the deceased’s assets, paying any liabilities and distributing funds to the beneficiaries named in the Will.
An executor can be a professional (e.g. a bank or solicitor) or a family member or friend. Where a non-professional is appointed, they are usually unable to charge for their own time but are entitled to use estate funds to pay for legal advice to assist them.
You may also have seen press reports which have highlighted instances where banks, who offered reduced fees for will writing 20 years ago, wrote themselves into the Wills as Executors subsequently charging many times the typical rate for these services. So, it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of appointing a professional executor.
Potential advantages include:
- If you have no family member or other individual you want to carry out the role, appointing a professional means there is a named executor who will be available to progress the administration of the estate.
- If your family members do not get along, or there is likely to be a fall out regarding the terms of a Will, appointing a professional executor can ensure the estate is dealt with impartially between beneficiaries.
- If the estate is likely to be complex, appointing a professional can ensure that someone with the right expertise progresses the administration of the estate.
Potential disadvantages include:
- A professional will charge fees for their advice so you want to ensure you are getting value for money.
- Reduced flexibility compared to appointing an individual as executor as individuals can choose whether to take legal advice or not, selecting an adviser based on estimated costs and geographical convenience at the time. This may result in lower overall costs for the estate.
- A professional executor continues to act and charge for their time unless removed by the Court whereas an individual executor can terminate instructions to a legal adviser if they are not satisfied.
- If you decide to appoint professional executors in your Will because of your family situation or the complexity of your estate, you should consider which professional to choose.
Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority which has power to award compensation if a solicitor does not meet the high standards demanded of their code of conduct (which include obligations to give information on costs together with regular updates). Solicitors are also likely to have recognised qualifications and specialist experience in handling the administration of estates.
When making a Will, it is important to be informed about the options available and to take specialist advice on your own particular circumstances. At Neale Turk LLP our private client practice is led by myself, Charlotte Searle, a solicitor and partner and a fully qualified member of the Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and the Association of Contentious Trust and Estates Practitioners (ACTAPS).
Neale Turk LLP is committed to providing an outstanding service to all our clients, and when we assist on probate matters we charge only by reference to the time we spend working for you, regardless of the value of the estate.
If you would like further information on wills and executors contact Charlotte on firstname.lastname@example.org