The Will has Several Executors - Who Does What?

09 February 2018

It is common to appoint more than one executor in a will. This is to ensure that there is someone appointed to administer the estate if anything happens to another named executor. There are often a number of family members, close friends or even a professional or an organisation named as executors.

Having said this, it does not mean that all the named executors have to take an active role in administering the estate. Up to four executors can be named on the grant of probate but only one executor needs to act if the others would prefer to take a back seat or have no involvement at all.

The duties involved in administering an estate remain the same, regardless of how many executors have been named or choose to be involved. For more information on what the role of executor involves, see Executor Duties Explained.

What Options do Named Executors Have?

There are several options for named executors:

Renunciation (Resignation)

An executor can choose to ‘renounce’ (resign) from their duties providing that they have not completed any administration work on the Estate beforehand. If they have already conducted work on the Estate then they will need to continue to act unless they become unable too. Otherwise, this is legally referred to as ‘intermeddling’.

The process of renouncing as an executor involves signing a ‘deed of renunciation’ to confirm that they will not have any input on the administration of the estate. This is usually irreversible and can be drafted by a solicitor.

When a professional or organisation has been named as an executor they may agree to renounce from their duties if requested, although they have no obligation to do so. They will agree to do so providing they think it is in the best interest of the estate. Having said this, they will often charge the estate for the signing of the renunciation document.

Notice of Power Reserved

Secondly an executor can be served a ‘Notice of Power Reserved’. This is a document which is issued by the acting Executor to confirm that the other named executors do not intend to have an active role within the estate administration. This is not a permanent notice and can be reversed if one of the other Executors wishes to act at a later date.

Serving Notice of Power Reserved is often a convenient option if one of the named executors lives overseas, as this will prevent the need to send all paperwork to them to sign. The court requires that any executors who do not wish to obtain the Grant of Probate are served with a Notice of Power Reserved.

With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for obtaining grant of probate and dealing with the legal, tax (excl VAT), property and estate administration affairs*.

*We can pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeral when you use our Probate Complete Service, and the Estate has sufficient assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs.

Multiple Executors Acting Together

It’s not uncommon for multiple named executors to want to act together to administer the estate. When these situations arise, if probate solicitors have been instructed then they will need to ensure that the instructions received from each executor are not conflicting. Having said that, joint executors can be particularly useful if there is a potential dispute, as this can help to ensure that fair decisions are made.

It is truly down to the executor’s personal choice as to whether they wish to act, renounce or serve Notice of Power Reserved. It is important to remember that if you have been named as an executor and wish to renounce that you cannot have undertaken any work on the estate prior to your renunciation.

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