Should I Appoint More than One Executor in My Will?

08 November 2019

If you are making a Will, one of the most important things to consider is who to appoint as your Executor. This will be the person responsible for administering your affairs after you die. You can name just one Executor in your Will, but we would always recommend appointing two or more Executors, just in case your first choice is unable to act for any reason when the time comes.

What Does the Executor Do?

The Executor of the Will is the person entrusted to administer your Estate after you die, as well as arranging your funeral and carrying out your wishes. This role carries a lot of responsibility and can involve a significant amount of tax, legal and administrative work.

Some of the main duties of the Executor include:

  • Calculating the value of everything you own (including your property, assets and investments)
  • Calculating and paying Inheritance Tax
  • Applying to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Probate, if needed
  • Collecting in the Estate's assets and selling or transferring these
  • Settling any outstanding debts, such as a loan or mortgage
  • Distributing the remaining Estate to the Beneficiaries (in line with the terms of the Will)

For the above reasons, it's important to choose carefully when deciding who to appoint as your Executor. This should be someone you trust, who is likely to be willing and able to take on this role when the time comes.

Bear in mind that lay Executors are not paid for the time they spend carrying out this work, but a professional Executor will charge a fee for this service.

Appointing More than One Executor

An Executor may be appointed to administer the Estate either solely or jointly with another person. If an Executor is appointed to act alone, it's still possible to name a second person as a substitute Executor, who can step in to act if the first Executor is unable.

If Executors are appointed to act jointly, then they can either carry out the Probate work together, or one Executor can choose not to act.

The appointment of more than one Executor will usually ensure that there is at least one Executor who can act if something were to happen to the other.

However, it can be sometimes be difficult for joint Executors to agree on the right course of action to take when administering an Estate, and this can lead to unpleasant disputes.

It's important to consider this when appointing joint Executors in your Will. There are ways in which conflict between joint Executors can be avoided.

Reducing the Risk of Conflict between Joint Executors

Conflict can arise between joint Executors for a variety of reasons. It could be that they have critical differences in opinion on how to administer the Estate effectively, or it may be that one Executor decides to take action without first clearing this with the other Executor.

One of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of conflict between joint Executors is for them to maintain regular contact with one another. For this reason, you may want to consider appointing joint Executors who already have a strong relationship. If there are existing tensions between them, then there's greater likelihood of a dispute arising during the Estate administration. It's important for joint Executors to trust one another and feel that they can talk through any concerns they have.

Remember you can also appoint Beneficiaries to act as Executors of the Estate. By appointing Beneficiaries as Executors, you can be sure that they will have a vested interest in administering the Estate correctly. This often means that they will be more likely to work well together.

Another option is to appoint a professional Executor, such as a Probate Specialist, to administer the Estate instead. The professional Executor will take care of all the legal, tax and other administrative work, relieving the joint Executors of the personal liability and emotional burden of doing this themselves. A Probate Specialist will have the relevant expertise to administer the Estate effectively and they can act objectively as they aren't emotionally invested.

In some cases, a professional Executor can be asked to renounce their role by the Beneficiaries. This may apply if the reason for their original appointment no longer exists or matters are far simpler than when the Will was first prepared. For more information, see Removing a Professional Executor of a Will.

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