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What if the Executor in a Will dies

If the Executor of the Will has died, the responsibility of administering the Testator’s Estate falls to someone else, and there are guidelines in place to determine who this should be, depending on the circumstances, and at what stage in the Probate process, the Executor passed away.

What happens where the Executor dies before the Testator?

If the executor has died before the Testator of the Will, the first stage is to review the Will to see if there are any other named Executors willing to take on the role of administering the Estate. This is why it is usually recommended that more than one Executor is appointed, to ensure that the administration of the estate continues with little impact in such an event.

If there are no other surviving executors, the Testator should consider making a new Will appointing other Executors, and ensure they regularly review the appointments to make sure that the Executors are still appropriately nominated; i.e: they are willing to act and of good health.

What happens where the Executor dies before the Grant of Probate?

If the Testator has named other executors in their Will, those Executors are able to continue administering the Estate.

If there are others named who aren’t willing to take on the role, or there are no other executors named, then the Non-Contentious Probate Rules (NCPR) 1987 provide further guidance as to who can be appointed as the Deceased’s Personal Representative, and administer the estate as the Executor would have done.  Under the Rule 20 of the NCPR 1987, the person appointed is most commonly:

  • A Trustee under the Will: this is anyone who has been appointed to hold assets on trust for a Beneficiary of the Residuary Estate.
  • Any Beneficiary of the Residuary Estate (the assets of the Deceased once all the taxes and liabilities have been settled, and any gifts bequeathed)

The Beneficiaries will decide who amongst them should be appointed as the Personal Representative, and a maximum of 4 may apply for the grant of Probate.

What happens where the Executor dies whilst the estate is being administered?

If the Executor passes away before the estate administration is completed, following the Grant of Probate, and there are no other executors able to continue administration, the beneficiaries must find out whether the deceased Executor has left a Will. If they have, then they will also have named Executors to settle their own estate, who now have the responsibility of administering the initial Estate, in addition to the one in which they are named as Executor. This is also known as the Chain of Representation.

The original Grant of Probate must be revoked and a new application for Grant of Probate must be made by the new executor so they are able to administer the original estate.

If there is no Will left by the deceased Executor, the Beneficiaries must turn to the NCPR 1987 to determine who may continue administering the Estate as mentioned above.

If you are a beneficiary of a Will and are concerned about who will administer the Deceased’s estate where the Executor has passed away, you do not need to worry, as there is a procedure in place to help identify the relevant person. So, if you are in need of help then please contact us today and our probate solicitors will be happy to help.

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