The Executor Role: honouring the Deceased After Death

Grave StonesWhen a loved one dies, emotions can run high for a long time afterwards. Although you may have already had a lovely service and burial for your loved one, most of the hard work occurs after he or she has passed on. If you have been chosen by your loved one or the courts to be an executor for their estate, you should know that you have been entrusted with a very important duty. While there is honour in providing executorial services, it is important that you fully understand the breadth of the role you are taking on.

What Does an Executor Do?

In Norfolk and Norwich, an executor follows the same duties outlined in the laws for most of England and Wales. These duties include all of the following:

  • Registering the death
  • Arranging the funeral
  • Notifications
  • Gathering information
  • Handling probate issues
  • Valuing the Estate
  • Dispersing items as per a will, or;
  • Dispersing items in the absence of a will
  • Handling issues related to inheritance taxes and probate
  • Working out debts on behalf of the deceased (you are not normally financially responsible; moneys come out of the estate unless otherwise specified or indicated by law)

What Traits Must an Executor Have?

The executor role certainly isn’t for everyone. It requires extreme attention to detail, a great deal of time and effort, and the ability to set emotion aside to make decisions. This can be difficult enough for solicitors, let alone someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one directly. You should never feel bad for turning down the executor position because you do not feel confident in your ability to handle the position. You should also understand that, in most cases, once you accept the role, you accept it for life.

Executors should have the following traits and abilities:

  • Able to be business-like
  • Trustworthy and able to keep your word
  • Capable of basic financial arrangements
  • An understanding of the role of an executor
  • Able to set aside emotion when necessary
  • Able to stay neutral between loved ones
  • Comfortable with the fact that executorial roles can last for some time
  • No current bankruptcy

Note that all executors must be over the age of 18, must not be in prison at the time of the position, and must not have prior fraud charges against them. Varying outside of this will invalidate your ability to take on this role.

Working with Multiple Executors

When you are asked to become an executor, you should ask if you will work with other executors. This is a common approach for large estates, and can be a blessing when it comes to the sheer amount of work that must be done after your loved one passes on. Up to four executors can be chosen for a single estate; if they are assigned, you must be able to work with other executors on a neutral basis. For this reason, it is advisable that all four executors be laid out at the same time. If possible, ask to speak with or meet each additional executor, or hold a group meeting to ensure compatibility. Remember; your position is to honour the deceased with final arrangements. If the other executors are people you do not normally respect or get along with, you may wish to decline the position on the basis that it may result in a bias.

Where to Get More Information on Becoming an Executor

In Norwich, there are a number of places where you can seek legal advice on becoming an executor. The Co-operative Legal Services offers assistance and guidance with executorial roles, and can even help you to decline the role should you feel it is a poor fit. They can also help you to identify alternatives to becoming an executor.

You can also seek the direct assistance of your priest, minister, spiritual leader, or preacher. Each of these individuals will have had experience with guiding families in times of grief. While they may not have the legal information you need, they should be able to provide comfort and point you in the right direction. This can be a great source of comfort to the executor during the process, too.

Finally, it is possible to hire a solicitor to handle executorial roles. This is often preferable when the estate is large or when a suitable party simply doesn’t exist. You can also contact Norfolk Community Law Services on 01603 496623 for answers to common questions. This service is entirely free for anyone in the community.



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