Have you been recently named as an Executor of a will? If so, then you need to get up to speed with some general knowledge about UK executry law. Of course, you do not need to become an expert in UK executry law overnight. Such is too much to ask of a person with no legal background whatsoever when even law students who specifically study the subject of UK executry law can still get confused on the topic. However, if you have been named as an Executor of a will, it is a bit of a double edged sword. On one hand, you will be cloaked with a certain amount of authority such as determining how the funeral will be handled as well as being charged with the final settlement of the estate of the deceased. You will also be granted authority by the court upon recognition to move the funds of the estate – especially those held in interest by banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions. Of course, as an Executor of a will, you also have certain responsibilities that must be complied with or there will be legal repercussions.
Can I just outright refuse to be an executor of a will?
Of course you can. The truth is that you cannot be forced to be an Executor of a will against your wishes. This is true whether the testator (the person who made the will) is dead or alive. Of course, how you deal with the refusal will vary greatly depending on whether the testator is alive or living. If the testator is still alive, then all you have to do is to inform that person that you do not want to be an executor in the estate. The will can then simply be amended to reflect this by striking your name off the list of executors and naming a new one to take your place. If the testator is already deceased then you can either inform your successor executor to take your place because you do not want to be an executor (if there is one named in the will), or you can inform the court that you do not wish to serve as an executor. There is no legal obligation to be an executor on your part either way.
How long do I have to settle the estate as an Executor of a will?
The probate of a will in the UK is different from other countries in that there is actually no strict deadline as to when the final settlement of the estate should occur. Most executors will take around 9-12 months to settle the estate, but this period could actually be much longer depending on a number of factors.
The only real deadline for an Executor of a will is that of submitting and paying for the inheritance tax. The total value of the estate must be calculated – and this includes shares, finances and other intangible forms of property as well as tangible property such as furniture, houses, buildings and real property. After the value of the entire estate has been calculated, the inheritance tax threshold must be taken into account in order to determine the taxable portion of the estate, if any.