DIY executors

Recent data published by the Courts Service has shown that claims against Executors alleging mishandling of a deceased person’s estate have more than tripled over the last year. These claims range from theft of assets by the executor to fraudulent distribution to favouring certain beneficiaries of the will above others.

Preparing a Will is one of the most important things you can do to secure your families long-term financial future. Many individuals spend a great deal of time deciding on ‘who gets what’ and making provisions to cater for a number of possible eventualities. A crucial part in the Will drafting process, the importance of which is often overlooked, is deciding who to appoint as Executor(s) - after all, these individuals are the ones who will ensure your wishes are carried out as intended. Or will they?More often than not, people are choosing to appoint family members, such as their children, as their Executors. However in a world where families are becoming increasingly complex and the potential for disputes has escalated, you should consider what would happen if your wishes caused friction between those you have left behind, and what would happen if the Executor did not act appropriately.

When choosing non-professional (“lay”) Executors, it is important to bear in mind that Executor decisions must be unanimous, therefore, it is not advisable to choose individuals who often disagree.You should also consider whether the individual is capable of carrying out the role of Executor of your Will. The role of Executor can be onerous, time-consuming and often entails a great deal of responsibility and personal liability. Some individuals find the responsibility overwhelming, especially at a time when they are experiencing bereavement.Along with this, when choosing Executors who are beneficiaries under your Will, it is imperative that you completely trust them. There have been a number of cases where the Executors have not agreed with the way the Testator has distributed their assets in their Will and have thereforetaken matters in to their own hands in distributing them as they see fit, even if that means they are acting contrary to the Testator’s wishes and their responsibilities as Executor.Individuals are often reluctant to appoint non family members such as professionals as executors, often saying that they are put off by the potential cost that would be deducted from the estate.

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