Who to Choose?
If I had to pin point what causes more problems than anything else when administering an estate, I would probably say disagreements between the Executors.
Executors have the legal duty to administer an estate on behalf of the beneficiaries. Executors have to act unanimously, so if there is disagreement everything can grind to a halt. It is therefore very important that you consider carefully who would be the best people to act as your Executors. There is a common misconception that beneficiaries cannot act as Executors. They can. In fact, it usually makes sense for the beneficiaries to also be Executors, as it is in their own interest to deal with everything in an efficient manner and indeed keep getting along!
If there is a dispute between the Executors, then the solicitor who is acting for all the Executors cannot advise any of them personally. Individual Executors then need to take their own independent legal advice. The issue here is obviously the increased costs for dealing with the administration, as well as the delays for the beneficiaries.
When considering who to appoint, consider not just whether you trust them as individuals, but whether collectively you think they will get on well enough to do the job in hand, however challenging. It is possible to appoint professional Executors such as your accountant, or solicitor. This can be by themselves, or alongside family members, which can help matters if things do become fraught, as they will act impartially and always put the interests of the beneficiaries first.
For more information visit our Probate and Estate Administration page.
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