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If I Have Been Named as an Executor, Do I Need to Do It?

  • The Law Society of Scotland

Losing a loved one is a life-changing and hugely challenging time in anyone’s life.  At a time when you are very emotional, you will also experience the administrative burden of dealing with their Estate if you are named as an Executor in their Will.  You may feel overwhelmed and might not know what to do next.  You may think that you do not want to be an Executor any more. 

Here, we explain the law around acting as an Executor.  While it is a challenging role, having a good understanding of what is involved may make the whole process seem more manageable.  If you do wish to resign, we can also assist you in that process. Get in touch to discuss your circumstances - our team and ready to help you.

What Are the Duties of An Executor?

An Executor is the representative of a deceased – for example, they take on the responsibility for paying off the debts and taxes owed by the deceased from their Estate. They are also responsible for distributing the Estate, either in accordance with a Will or the succession law if there is no Will. As an Executor, you will be legally accountable for your actions and must act ethically and in accordance with the law at all times.

An Executor is responsible for obtaining Confirmation for an Estate. The grant of Confirmation gives the Executor the legal authority to administer the Estate. Obtaining Confirmation involves preparing an inventory of everything owned by the deceased and lodging this inventory with the local sheriff court. This can be time-consuming, but it is common for Executors to employ professional solicitors to assist them in this process.

Can a Beneficiary Act as an Executor?

Yes, it is common for a beneficiary named in the Will to act as an Executor. At Claphams, we recommend that an Executor is someone known and trusted by the deceased, such as a family member or a close friend, as these are the people who know them best. Therefore, more often than not people will want to name at least one of the beneficiaries as an Executor of their Will and in many cases, this will be the main beneficiary.

Resigning as an Executor

Usually, you will have been asked to be an Executor before you are named in a Will. It is normal to have discussions about who would be willing to take on the distribution of an Estate, so you should have forewarning that this burden will fall upon you. If someone you know has asked if they can name you as an Executor in their Will, you should carefully consider the implications of being so appointed. If you consider the role carefully at this time, this may avoid problems in the future.

Nevertheless, when it ultimately comes to taking up your role as an Executor, you may decide that you no longer want to take on the role. If there are several Executors named in a Will, it is possible to step down, and the others can act as Executors without you. This is why we always recommend naming several Executors in a Will – it allows a degree of flexibility if one of them no longer wishes to act, or is unable to do so.

However, if you are the only named Executor in a Will, it will be necessary to find someone to take your place. This may be a professional person – such as a firm of solicitors. If you are considering stepping down as an Executor and want to understand who can be appointed in your place, you should seek legal advice today.

For more information on winding up an estate, see our FAQs here.

Contact our Executry Solicitors Clarkston, Newton Mearns, Giffnock, Netherlee, Eaglesham, Carmunnock, Stewarton & Southside Glasgow

Our highly-experienced team have helped many clients in Clarkston, Newton Mearns, Netherlee, Giffnock, East Kilbride and the greater Glasgow area deal with the administration of an estate. If you have any questions about acting as an Executor, do not hesitate to get in touch. Contact us today on 0141 620 0800  or fill out our online enquiry form if you require our assistance.

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Please note we are a firm of Scottish Solicitors helping clients across Scotland and cannot help you if you are based in England.