A good friend (or client) of yours has sadly passed away and has named you as an executor of his Will. What do you do now? Must you act?
It is always flattering to be trusted with such a responsible role. In some respects, you may feel morally obligated to act. However, it is always worth taking some time out to think carefully about what you are taking on before you say yes; something that a solicitor can help you do, as we regularly deal with estate administrations and know what they really entail.
The reality is that most estate administrations are a lot of hard work, which can put a strain on your work/family life if you decide to tackle matters yourself. Many take longer than a year to completely finish, some much longer, and it is rarely apparent from the outset how long it will take. That usually becomes clear once investigations into the assets and liabilities of the deceased have concluded, at which point you may be legally obliged to carry on acting as executor, even if you have changed your mind.
Many people are surprised to learn that if you are named as an executor, or as a trustee of a will trust, you do not have to accept the role. If the deceased was a client of yours and you are hoping to continue to manage their investments on behalf of their heirs, you may also have professional conduct/conflict issues if you accept the appointment. And does the Will contain a clause allowing you to charge for your time?
Here are a few more pointers to help you decide:
As you can see, accepting an executorship is not your only option by far. However, once you have accepted you cannot retire, so think carefully before you say ‘I do’!