Who will administer your Estate? If you do not choose, the law will choose for you!

As well as setting out how you wish to leave your assets, writing a Will also plays a pivotal role in who will be involved in the administration of your Estate, that is who will be responsible for the practical element of selling or transferring your property, closing your bank accounts and distributing your estate to the beneficiaries.

If you make a Will, you will choose the people that will act and they will be called your Executors. Your solicitor can advise you of the best person or people to choose depending on your circumstances. Acting as Executor is a big job so you will want to appoint the most capable and proactive people and this could be a combination of close relatives, friends and professional advisors.

If you do not make a Will, or fail to properly appoint an Executor in your Will, The Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 Section 22 will dictate the order of priority of persons that can act. They will be called your Personal Representatives and will be appointed in the following order:-

(a)      the surviving spouse;

(b)      the children of the deceased and the issue of any deceased child who died before the deceased;

(c)      the father and mother of the deceased;

(d)      brothers and sisters of the whole blood and the issue of any deceased brother or sister of the whole blood who died before the deceased;

(e)      brothers and sisters of the half blood and the issue of any deceased brother or sister of the half blood who died before the deceased;

(f)       grandparents;

(g)      uncles and aunts of the whole blood and the issue of any deceased uncle or aunt of the whole blood who died before the deceased;

(h)      uncles and aunts of the half blood and the issue of any deceased uncle or aunt of the half blood who died before the deceased.

In many simple situations, the above order will be acceptable as the order follows the general order of closeness of family relationships.

However, issues will arise when a person is appointed who is not willing or capable of administering the Estate or when this job falls to more remote family.

Disagreements can often occur as to who from the class will take the lead and occasionally people who would have ordinarily not been chosen will have the right to act e.g. a child or sibling who are maybe not happy with their share under the Will, or somebody the deceased would not have wished to burden.

It is important to really think about who will be best placed person to act as your Executor and to take advice as to who to potentially appoint as a substitute.

Appointing the most appropriate Executor will ensure that the administration progresses smoothly and is conducted on an impartial basis so that the best result is achieved for your beneficiaries.

In most cases people will choose to deviate totally from the order under the NCPR 1987 and appoint both their spouse and children to act together. Many also consider appointing friends or professional advisors who do not appear in the list but who may be more suited to dealing with the practical elements of administering the estate. It is also worth bearing in mind that should any minor interest arise under your Estate, at least two executors must be appointed.

If you have been appointed as an Executor and would like some assistance, would like to make a Will, or require advice on who to choose as your Executor, please contact Hollie Skipper at hskipper@meaby.co.uk, or feel free to call on 020 3861 5158.

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