Can a Beneficiary Also Be an Executor in Probate?
05 August 2019
There is no reason why a beneficiary of the Estate cannot also act as the Executor during Probate, providing they have been named as the Executor in the Will. It is actually quite common to name the same person as both a beneficiary and Executor of the Estate when making a Will.
What's the Difference between a Beneficiary and an Executor?
The role of a beneficiary in Probate is very different to the role of Executor, but this doesn't mean that the same person cannot be named as both.
A beneficiary is someone who is entitled to inherit some or all of the assets in the Estate. There is no limit on the number of beneficiaries that someone can name in their Will, and the Estate can be divided in any number of ways between them.
If someone has been named solely as a beneficiary, then they do not need to be actively involved in the Probate process. However, they are entitled to be kept informed of what's happening and residuary beneficiaries are entitled to see the Estate Accounts.
The role of Executor, on the other hand, is very different. The Executor of the Estate is the person, or people, responsible for carrying out all of the Probate work.
The Executor's duties can include (but are not limited to):
- Registering the death
- Arranging the funeral
- Securing the property (if it's empty)
- Notifying all the relevant organisations of the death
- Contacting the beneficiaries
- Valuing the Estate
- Calculating and paying Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax
- Applying for the Grant of Probate
- Collecting in the assets
- Settling any outstanding debts
- Placing a statutory advertisement
- Preparing the Estate accounts
- Distributing the Estate
The Will can name just one Executor to act alone, or multiple Executors to act jointly. The Executor has a duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, regardless of whether or not they are entitled to inherit anything from the Estate themselves.
How Does It Work without a Will?
If the deceased didn't leave a Will, then the way Probate works is a little different. As no one will have been named as an Executor or a beneficiary of the Estate, these individuals will be determined by inheritance laws instead.
These laws are called the Rules of Intestacy, and these place relatives of the deceased in order of priority. This starts with the deceased's spouse or civil partner, followed by their children, then their parents, then their siblings, and so on.
The person, or people, at the top of this list will be eligible to take on the role of Administrator. This is essentially the same as the Executor's role, but the role has a different title when there's no Will.
This person, or people, will also be the main beneficiary of the Estate. They do not have to take on the role of Administrator, and if they choose not to then the next person on the list will be able to take on this role instead. However, they would still be entitled to inherit from the Estate as the main beneficiary.