When making a Will, people often ask whether an Executor can also be a Beneficiary. The answer is yes, it's perfectly normal (and perfectly legal) to name the same person (or people) as both an Executor and a Beneficiary in your Will.
What is the Difference between a Beneficiary and an Executor?
Beneficiaries are the people who you want to inherit your assets and possessions (known collectively as your Estate) after you die. You can name anyone you choose to be a Beneficiary including your spouse, children, relatives, friends or charities as Beneficiaries.
There are different types of gifts that you can leave to your Beneficiaries. You can leave a specific sum of money, a specific item, or a percentage of what's left in your Estate once all debts and other gifts have been paid.
Executors are the people who you want to administer your Estate once you've passed away. Most people choose either one or two Executors, although up to four Executors can act at any one time. It's a good idea to choose more than one Executor, or to name a substitute Executor, in case your first choice is unable to act. Typically, people appoint family members, friends, or a professional Executor (such as a Solicitor or accountant) to carry out the role of Executor.
Choosing Your Executor
- corresponding with all all those involved in the Estate, including but not limited to; companies, banks, service providers, councils, HMRC, DWP, DVLA and the Land Registry
- applying to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate
- calculating the value of your Estate
- calculating tax, submitting tax forms to HMRC and paying any tax that's due
- settling any outstanding debts on the Estate
- selling/transferring property and/or investments
- distributing your Estate to the Beneficiaries, as set out in your Will
As you can see, there's a lot of legal, tax and administrative work involved, and the Executor can be found personally liable if anything goes wrong. So, it's important to think carefully about who to appoint as your Executors. Your Executor should not only be someone you trust, but also someone that is capable of undertaking this task when the time comes.
What's more, your chosen Executor does not have to take on the role when the time comes if they don't want to. For this reason, if you want to name a family member or friend, it's best to speak to them about this first.
For more information see How to Choose an Executor when Making a Will.
Naming a Beneficiary as an Executor
Naming one of your Beneficiaries as the Executor of your Will is a common approach. It's very likely that you will want to name at least one of your Beneficiaries as your Executor, and it's not unusual for this to be your main Beneficiary.
On the other hand, it might be that your Executor is not named as a Beneficiary. It could be, for example, that you want your children to inherit everything, but you would like your extremely competent friend to act as an independent Executor. Again, this is perfectly acceptable.
Naming a Beneficiary as a Witness
What a Beneficiary should not do, however, is act as the witness to your Will. Nor should the Beneficiary's spouse (or civil partner). Whilst this does not invalidate your Will, it does mean that the Beneficiary is no longer entitled to receive their inheritance.
You should to sign the Will in front of two independent witnesses. These witnesses will then need to sign the Will (witness it) in front of you.