Co-Executors & Disputes

The office of Executor is an important one that carries a significant amount of responsibility.

For this reason, appointing more than one to act together is a common approach. This allows the Executors to share the load and also means that there is a contingency in place in case one Executor is unable or unwilling to act when the time comes. In many cases a professional executor is appointed alongside family members.

Despite the best of intentions, sometimes joint Executors disagree on how to do things during the administration of an Estate. This can often lead to unpleasant disputes and, in turn, hold up the Probate process, because all acting Executors need to agree before matters can progress.

How can these disputes be avoided?

  • Maintain regular communication between all acting Executors.
  • If there’s more than one possible course of action, then it’s important to favour the option that will have the best outcome for the Beneficiaries.
  • There’s also the option of employing a professional Executor, such as a Private Client Solicitor to administer the Estate. The professional will take care of all the legal, tax and other administrative work on the Estate, on behalf of the Executors. This relieves the joint Executors of the personal liability and emotional burden of doing this work themselves.

There are many benefits to appointing a professional executor, For example, a professional Executor is specialised in Probate law and has the necessary expertise to carry out all of the required Probate work for the Estate. They will charge a fee for this service, which will simply be deducted from the Estate funds as an administration expense.

A professional Executor does not have any personal connection with the Estate – their job is to ensure they administer the Estate in accordance with the law and the terms of the Will. There is not the emotional involvement of family members or friends who have been appointed as joint Executors, which is what often leads to potential conflict.

It is always important to carefully consider who you would like to act as your Executors in your will. Simply appointing family and friends may seem easy but it is not always the most sensible option and a professional executor should always be considered.