When most people think about writing their Will, it’s usually to document who will inherit their estate when they die – but a Will can offer much more than that, including setting an age at which beneficiaries should inherit, selecting guardians for children under 16, and appointing Executors to deal with your estate.
Executors are the legal representatives of a deceased person with a duty to ensure the deceased’s wishes are carried out in accordance with their Will, but they also have an obligation to take legal advice on matters such as Legal Rights and to ensure any debts of the deceased are settled before winding up the estate.
You can choose how many Executors you name in your Will, however we always recommend having at least one as well as a substitute Executor who could act in the event of the first named individual not being able to, for example if they died first. Executors can be a combination of family, friends and professional advisors, such as your solicitor. It is a common misconception that a beneficiary cannot be appointed as an Executor but in fact there is no issue in doing so.
One of the first questions most banks and financial institutions will ask is ‘did the deceased have a Will?’ and if the answer is ‘yes’, they will want to deal with the Executor that has been appointed. This is because it is the Executor that has an obligation to obtain the relevant details about the deceased’s assets, apply for a Grant of Confirmation and eventually sign any bereavement forms to close accounts and have the funds released.
But what happens if there isn’t a Will? Well, if it’s necessary to have an Executor, and the deceased person hasn’t appointed one, it is the responsibility of those who are benefiting from the estate to apply to the Court to be appointed as an Executor. It may well be that the Court will also request a Bond of Caution be in place. This is a type of insurance policy that provides the beneficiaries of the estate with protection that the Executor will administer the estate in accordance with the law. This of course all adds on time and expense to the estate, which could have been avoided!
Another disadvantage to not having an Executor named in your Will is that the person entitled to apply to the Court could potentially be someone that you wouldn’t necessarily want to act as your Executor, such as your spouse who may be in poor health or unable to cope with the role of Executor on top of grieving; your children, who have a right to act as young as the age of 16; or your brother that you are not in contact with, etc.
If you don’t have a Will in place, or need to update your existing Will, we are offering free Wills during the month of September as part of our campaign to raise funds for Cash for Kids. In return, we simply ask that you make a donation to the charity. All donations received and sent on to Cash for Kids in full.
To arrange an appointment with one of our Private Client specialists, please be in touch on 03301 757177.