What if the Executors of my Will die?

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If the executors of your will die, the beneficiaries can apply to administer your estate.

The appointment of the executors in your will is a big decision. They will be the people/persons responsible for administering your estate after you pass away. So, what if they die before, with, or after you (during the period of administration of your estate)? Here, we take a look at how this impacts your will, your estate, and equally what steps you can take to avoid it becoming a problem.

What is an Executor?

Let’s start with the obvious! The executor of your will is the person or persons who administers your estate after you die.

Can my Executor(s) be relatives?

Yes, your executors can be relatives.

Can my Executors also be Beneficiaries of my Will?

Again, yes! But do be mindful of the possible upset it might cause if for example you only include some (and not all) of your children as executors. It can set those up for a bit of a fall if they are appointed executors and others are not.

Can I appoint a Professional Executor?

Yes, and avoiding the death of an executor causing problems to your estate is good reason for choosing for choosing a professional. See below for an explanation as to how/why this avoids the death of an executor causing a problem.

Should my will include Substitute Executors?

Without question, a well drafted will appoints executors, along with substitutes to cover situations where executors cannot act (death/ill health/simply do not want to do it).

How many substitute Executors should I include in my Will?

Though a well drafted will can go some way to cover various eventualities, we also have to be realistic about how far this can go! One would ordinarily expect at least one set of substitute executors.

Appointing professional executors can reduce the risk of the executor clause in your will failing.

Do I have to change my Will if one of my Executors dies before me?

No, and yes! If your will has adequate substitute provisions that covers things (despite the death of an executor) then you can leave things as they are. There is no administrative or legal requirement to note the death of an executor. Any appointment simply fails (obviously) on your own death. If you need to replace the deceased executor you simply make a new will.

What happens if an Executor dies after me but before Probate is issued?

Like an executor passing before you die, the appointment simply fails and substitute provisions would apply allowing reserve executors to take the appointment instead.

What if an Executor dies after Probate and during the administration of my estate?

If there is a remaining executor they should be able to continue. If it is a sole executor that has died, then the executor of their own estate can apply to complete the estate of the ‘first’ deceased in what is called a ‘de bonis non’ probate (sorry about the Latin!).

How do the surviving Executors prove one of their fellow Executors has died?

Surviving executors must exhibit ann original copy of the death certificate of the deceased’s executor to prove they can continue to act without them.

What is a Grant de Bonis Non?

This is where the executor(s) of the estate of an executor of an estate become entitled to continue the work of the then deceased executor on the estate of the ‘first’ deceased.

How do I avoid being left without Executors?

Either include sensible substitute provisions, and/or considering appointing professionals. When you do so (appoint professionals) it is normal practice to (for example) appoint the law firm NOT a solicitor within it. That way, the chances of there being an executor to deal with your estate is much greater (than if you appoint an individual who themselves may be ill or unable to act even if they are a professional).

Who can be my Executor if none of the appointments work at my Death?

If all of the executor appointments have failed at the point at which you die, then the beneficiaries of your estate are entitled to apply for a grant of probate instead.

If the Executor Clause in my Will fails does it cancel my whole Will?

No, if the executor clause in your will fails, the remainder of your will (gifting your estate etc) should remain valid.

Need help with any aspect of being or appointing Executors?

If you are an executor, or you are making a will appointing executors, and you are at all unsure of the law, then do get in touch with our team of expert wills and probate lawyers.

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