What happens if the Executor in a Will has died?
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Under the terms of someone’s Will, they will appoint the person (or people) they wish to act as their Executors. An Executor is the person responsible for administering an estate and carrying out the wishes set out in someone’s Will. If the Executor in a Will has died, there is a process to be followed in order for the estate to be administered. This will be determined case-by-case by the terms of the Will.
What happens if the Executor in your Will dies before you?
If your Executor dies before you do, then any joint or replacement Executor under the terms of your Will, will be responsible for administering the estate. If there is no provision for a joint or replacement Executor in your Will, then it would be advisable that you prepare a new Will and appoint a new Executor. If you fail to do so, one of the beneficiaries will need to apply for ‘Letters of Administration with Will Annexed’.
What happens if an Executor passes away during a period of administration or following obtaining the Grant of Representation to a person’s estate?
If there is more than one Executor, the administration of the estate is simply left in the hands of the surviving Executor(s). However, if the deceased Executor was the sole Executor (or last surviving Executor), then the Executor named in their Will would become responsible for completing the administration of the estate under what is referred to as the “chain of representation”. This essentially means that the Executor of the now deceased Executor will have to deal with the administration of both estates.
If the deceased Executor did not leave a Will, then the “Non-Contentious Probate Rules (1987)” will apply. These rules set out the person(s) who are entitled to apply for a Grant of Representation, starting with the Executor themselves. In this scenario, the next person(s) in line to apply would be anyone who has been appointed to hold estate assets on Trust for a Residuary Beneficiary, followed by the Residuary Beneficiary(ies) themselves.
Whilst these circumstances are unusual, they do present significant complexities to who is legally allowed to apply for a Grant of Representation and administer someone’s estate. In such circumstances, seeking legal advice and guidance is often a sensible measure to take.
Rix & Kay’s Private Client team provide expert guidance and advice on all areas of Wills, Trusts and Probate. For more information on what happens if the Executor in a Will has died, or any other related advice please contact Michaela Hill on e. MichaelaHill@rixandkay.co.uk or t. 01825 744416.
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