It is often the case that more than one executor is named in a Will. We take a look at how to deal with the administration of an estate where there are multiple executors.

You can appoint up to four executors when you make your Will and it is can be advisable to appoint at least two in case one person is unable or unwilling to take on the task when the time comes.

Applying for probate

After a death, an executor named in the Will needs to make an application to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate. Where more than one executor is named, some decisions need to be made.

Firstly, before any actions are taken in winding up the estate, each executor will decide whether they wish to renounce. This means that they would not take any part at all in the winding up of the estate and would also give up their right to do so. This can only be done if the person has taken no action at all in dealing with the deceased’s affairs, so the decision will need to be taken early on.

The other alternative is to have power reserved. This means that an executor will not deal with the estate administration, but has the option to step in at a later date if needed.

Once a decision has been made as to how many executors will deal with the estate administration, then one of them will need to make the application to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Probate.

Estate administration

Where more than one executor will be acting, then they need to work together throughout the estate administration process. This can slow matters down slightly as they will need to make decisions together, each sign forms and give consent where necessary, for example, to complete a property sale.

As executors, you have the option of asking a probate solicitor to deal with the winding up of the estate on your behalf. You would still need to sign certain forms, but they would take on the work of the administration. This can be a good option for those with limited time as it can be both time-consuming and complex, sometimes requiring many hours to work out exactly how to approach certain issues such as Inheritance Tax calculations and estate accounts as well as substantial correspondence and telephone calls with asset holders.

Appointing more than one executor

It is important that careful consideration is given to the choice of executors when making a Will. There is a strong possibility they could choose to act together if none of them wishes to renounce or have power reserved.

You are advised to choose individuals who have a good relationship with both each other and with the beneficiaries to avoid the risk of a dispute.

Appointing all of one’s children to try and treat them equally is not always a good idea. When the time comes, if they all have to try and make every decision together, it can put a strain on relationships. It is possible to appoint a single executor with a back-up named if the original choice is unable or unwilling to act.

It is highly recommended that any potential conflict of interest is avoided as far as possible. Executors will have the power to distribute personal items and make funeral arrangements and when emotions are running high following a death it is easy for disagreements to arise.

If you do not have anyone suitable to act or you are concerned that there could be a dispute, you can consider appointing a professional. This is generally an expert probate solicitor and while there will be a cost for their services it is far preferable to having a legal disagreement which will be expensive and which could drain your estate of funds. It can also be severely damaging to family relationships.

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