Being an executor – how hard can it really be?

I have spoken with a lot of people, both in and outside of work, who have been appointed as an executor in a Will and have decided to deal with Probate and the estate themselves. Whilst there is nothing to stop people from doing this, I come across so many misconceptions about the process and costs involved, it can be quite alarming!

Whether a deceased’s estate is ‘simple’ or not; whether their Will seems on the face of things to be valid or not; whether a person is confident with paperwork or not, there can be serious personal consequences for anyone acting as an executor who gets it wrong. By personal consequences, I mean the executor can be liable from their own pocket, and not the estate funds, for mistakes they have made.

I would always advise, regardless of what the assets are or how much they amount to, that you get legal assistance if you’re acting as executor, if not for the whole administration then for some input at some stage, for your own protection in your role. The seriousness of the role should not be underestimated.

Things can become more complex for executors where the deceased owned a business. How business assets are dealt with will depend on certain things including the terms of the Will, and the structure of the business, for example whether the deceased was a sole trader or in a partnership with others. The business asset will need to be valued, which can also be complex, and executors may even need to make decisions about the management of the business if it is an ongoing one.

Jennifer Duckett, Solicitor at  Neves Solicitors
Jennifer Duckett, Solicitor at Neves Solicitors

It is true that professionals dealing with estates will charge a fee for their services. Neves’ fees range from a fixed fee for less than one hundred pounds for an initial advice meeting, to a fixed fee in the hundreds of pounds for getting the Grant of Probate, to our hourly rate stretching into the thousands for fully administering a complex taxable estate. As you’ll agree, that is a broad range of costs, all dependent on the level of support you think you require. It’s worth bearing in mind that the consequences of lay executors failing to deal with the administration properly could personally cost them tens of thousands of pounds, if not much more, and far in excess of any legal fees they would have paid for a professional service.

Our Private Client team here in Milton Keynes are always happy to have an initial conversation with you; we appreciate it can be very stressful dealing with a friend or family member’s affairs after they’ve died and we can provide professional support at a difficult time. Please do get in touch with us if you think we may be able to help, or if you would like more information about what being an executor entails.

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