Can a Minor Be a Beneficiary in a Will?


We often encounter the question – “who can you name as a beneficiary in your Will?”.  While most of the time the answer is “just about anyone you want” the full truth of the matter is a little more complicated.

It is possible to name a minor as a beneficiary in a Will, however, passing assets on to a person who is under 18 years old is more complicated than it may seem. Ensuring that your dependents (especially ones who will be minors for years to come) are taken care of is important. This article will explain all the information relevant to protecting the interests of a minor in your Will.

Can a Minor Be Named a Beneficiary?

While the answer is technically yes, the more relevant fact is that anyone under the age of 18 lacks the legal capacity to accept any kind of gift under a Will. This means that a minor can indeed be named as a beneficiary or heir, but they will not actually be able to accept any assets bequeathed to them until they turn 18 and gain their full rights as an adult.  

If you name a minor as a beneficiary in your Will, a trust automatically arises which will hold and control the assets in question until the Minor comes of age. In addition to the trust, you must also appoint two adults to act as Trustees to handle and maintain the trust. When appointing a Trustee, the creator of the Will (often a parent bequeathing assets to their children) can also state specific instructions and conditions for how the funds should be invested, spent, or saved.

It’s also worth noting that 18 is not the only age that a beneficiary can inherit assets from a Will. A trust can be set up in such a way that the assets it holds do not become available until the beneficiary reaches a particular age specified in the Will. Often parents stipulate the age of inheritance at 21 or 25 to ensure their child does not squander their wealth while still at a relatively immature age.

Choosing What Kind of Trust to Establish

As you might expect, Will-writers have some options when setting up a trust to care for their assets. The main options available are a bare trust, a discretionary trust or a contingency trust.

Bare Trust

A bare trust is the simplest option, the equivalent of an outright gift with strings attached. When a minor has been named in a Will the assets are placed into an automatic trust which is managed by the trustee for the minor.

In this arrangement, the minor will receive the full assets given to them as soon as they reach legal majority at age 18. If the beneficiary outlives the person who passed on the wealth, but dies before they reach 18, go to the estate of that minor.

Contingency Trust

As the name implies, a contingency trust places more rules and restrictions on the person inheriting wealth. The most common contingencies are age-related, not allowing the beneficiary to inherit until they reach an older age point, often 21 or 25. In this case, if the beneficiary should die before reaching the specified age, the assets would go to an alternative beneficiary or back to the estate.

Discretionary Trust

A discretionary trust is unique in that it gives the trustee absolute discretion on how to apply, invest, or pay out funds from the trust on the beneficiary’s behalf. This kind of option allows the trustee to freely access and use the capital available for the trust to cover significant expenses that may come up before the beneficiary turns 18, such as buying a car or covering educational expenses.

Although this kind of trust can be important and helpful in raising a young child whose parents have passed away, it’s important to take steps to prevent abuse of the Trust. When writing a Will, the Trustees are liable for any losses which arise especially if they do not take professional advice when making investments or looking after the Trust assets.

Trusting the Right Legal Professionals

Writing a Will to cover the needs of your family and loved ones after your passing is one of the most important things a person can do in their life. While it’s possible for a careful and thorough researcher to make a Will on their own, it’s all too easy for a non professional to make a mistake that can affect the passing of their assets on to their heirs.

That’s why so many people have been trusting Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors. With more than 10 years of experience in helping the community with issues like Wills, Probate, and Equity release, we are here to defend your interest and secure your legacy.


Here’s Why Every Parent Needs A Will


Wills are the only legal way to specify what happens when you die, where your assets go, how your estate is handled, and what you want to happen for your children if they are under the age of 18. Thinking of your death is not something most people like to do but for peace of mind and the future of your children having a Will is an important necessity for all parents.

Why Do Parents Need a Will?

When adapting to life as a parent, writing a Will isn’t in the forefront of your mind. But without a Will, if parents die together or the only surviving parent dies, it can potentially lead to uncertainty for the children.  Financial worry for a surviving partner, spouse or the children can also be a significant  factor if the parent who has died was the major breadwinner.

Appoint Guardians

Unless a Will specifically states how your children will be cared for, and by whom, it is up to the courts to decide who actually takes care of your children and what happens to them. While an obvious choice like a close relative or family friend may be available, legally it is not bound unless it is in your Will. This can be extremely distressing for the children involved and sometimes lead to them being cared for by someone the parents would not have chosen. You can make sure your children are looked after by someone you love and trust by specifying the guardians in your Will.

Avoid Additional Stress

Dealing with someone’s estate after their death is already a stressful situation. A Will can offer clarity and direction for your family and provide answers to questions they wish they could ask. Wills can clarify what kind of funeral someone wanted, where they would like their ashes to be scattered and state how they want their estate to be divided. Writing a Will can allow you to review your assets so that you can know whether inheritance tax will be payable at the date of your death.  This allows you to plan for it or implement strategies to avoid it altogether.  Having a Will also enables you to receive advice from an experienced Solicitor who may advise about family dynamics that might lead to potential claims if nothing is done.  For example, if a person is separated but not divorced, the loved one may not know that the spouse may bring a claim against their estate if they are not considered in the Will.

Secure Your Children’s Financial Future

Regardless of the age of your children, a Will sets exact amounts of their inheritance. In order for everyone to get a fair share and to avoid family disputes over money, it is extremely helpful to set all of this up in one document. With a Will written, you can have arrangements made to cover expenses of raising your children and balance the needs of all members of your family.

In your Will, you are able to decide what age you want your children to be when they receive their inheritance. Unless the Will says otherwise, your children will automatically get their assets at 18. Before this age, your children will be able to benefit from their inheritance but the assets are held in trust and managed by an appointed trustee. If you believe 18 is too young for your child to be financially responsible, you may choose a higher age, or put conditions in place for their access to the money.

Provide for Other Dependents

Step-children do not automatically inherit from your estate unless you have specifically included them in your Will. If you have step-children, or other children you care for like foster children or dependent adults, you will need to include them in your Will otherwise they will not benefit from your estate.

What Happens to Your Family Without a Will?

When you die without a Will, your estate is then divided according to intestacy rules. When writing a Will, you are able to ensure that if you or your partner dies, your family will be provided for and your estate to be divided as you wish. 

When you do not have a will:

  • Your partner, spouse, or civil partner will not automatically inherit all of your assets
  • If you are not married to your partner, they will not be able to inherit anything
  • Your children’s legal guardian may be decided by a local authority or court
  • Any step-children, foster children, or other adult dependants are unable to inherit any of your assets

Will and Trust Expertise with Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors

While the thought of writing a will may be daunting, it does not have to be a disheartening experience and can offer peace of mind that you took care of your family and affairs ahead of time. Your loved ones are able to manage your last wishes with ease when you have set a clear guideline.
Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors are here for you with an experienced and considerate team to guide you through writing your will. Contact us today for more information and let us assist you in creating a happy future for your family.


Why Making a Will is Not Just for the Rich

making a will

Many people believe that you only need a Will if you are wealthy. That is a common misconception that couldn’t be more wrong. A Will can do many things that people in all economic groups can find helpful. You should have a Will if you have a family, own a home, or even have a savings account.

Whether you have put off making a Will because you think your assets aren’t worth worrying about, or you believe that getting a Will written is too costly, this article will discuss what a Will is and some reasons why you should make one, even if you aren’t rich.

What is a Will? 

A Will, sets out your instructions expressing your wishes as to who should inherit your estate and what you wish to happen after you die. A Will is a legally binding document, but if it isn’t prepared correctly, it may be considered invalid.

If your Will is deemed invalid, or you die without a Will, your estate will be distributed per the Rules of intestacy. If this happens, your estate may not go to the people you care about. So while you can write your own Will, enlisting the services of an experienced solicitor may be beneficial.

Name a Guardian for Your Children

While no one wants to think about what will happen to their children should both they and the other parent die, it’s an important decision. When you make a Will, decide who will care for your children should something happen to both parents. If both parents die and there is no Will, a Judge will determine who will care for your children.

Ensure Your Assets Are Protected

Having your Will written by a professional can help protect your assets from being given to someone you didn’t intend on receiving them.

Seeking legal advice when making a Will can protect your assets and ensure that they go to who you intended them to.

Prevent Family Disputes

When you make a Will, you outline everything you want to happen upon your passing.   If you haven’t made a Will, how will anyone know what you wanted if you die? Assumptions and disagreements between family members are more likely to occur if you don’t make a Will.  This can be especially true when unmarried partners or stepchildren are involved, as the rules of intestacy dol not allow them to inherit anything if there is no Will. Documenting your wishes in a Will can help avoid these disputes.

Make It Easier On Your Loved Ones

It’s difficult to lose someone you love.  When you make a Will, your loved ones can be assured that they are carrying out your wishes and that means you can continue to take care of your family even when you aren’t around.

Your Will can also contain details of your funeral plans, such as whether you want to be buried or cremated or what songs you want to have played at your funeral. If you have difficulty discussing these things with your family, leaving instructions in your Will is a great way to communicate what you want.

Name an Executor

In your Will, you will choose who will be your Executor. The Executor is the person who will finds out the value of your estate after you die, pays your debts and distribute the remainder to your chosen beneficiaries. 

By making a Will, you control who manages these things for you. You should appoint someone reliable and organised that you can trust to take on such a responsibility. The Executor doesn’t have to be a family member and you can choose up to four  Executors in your Will.

Let Our Expert Team Help Make a Will That Suits Your Needs

As you can see, there are many reasons that make a Will important for anyone, regardless of the size of their estate. Your family will be going through a difficult time when they are trying to settle your estate, having your wishes properly documented can help relieve some of their stress.

The team at Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors will help you plan for the future. With over ten years of experience in Wills, Probate, and Equity Release, we help our clients feel at ease while providing excellent service for each client.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


5 Most Overlooked Assets in a Will


It’s easy to think of the typical assets that are important to your estate and your family or beneficiaries. There are, however, some assets that most overlook but can be just as important. This article will review five of the most overlooked assets in a Will.

#1. Online Finances

Bank accounts are rarely forgotten when making a Will. However, with so much happening online these days, people may have funds in accounts such as PayPal, Venmo, eBay, and cryptocurrency. You should leave a detailed list of all online financial accounts, including passwords, to ensure that these assets are not overlooked.

This is especially true for cryptocurrency. If your family doesn’t have access to your account information, and no one can access it, those assets are gone forever. There is password manager software available that you can use to ensure that none of these assets are overlooked.

#2. Digital Assets

To ensure that none of the information on your phone or computer is lost, you should share your unlock codes with someone you know and trust. You can also save your online passwords in a secure password manager and make sure that someone can access that account as well.

Along with domain names, websites, and other online accounts, you should also consider social media accounts. Do you want your social media accounts continued after your death?

Facebook gives you the option to choose someone to take over your account should something happen to you. This can be especially important if your social media or other websites are used to generate income. You will need to address whether the business should be shut down or if it should be passed on to someone else.

#3. Pets

People love their pets and want to make sure they are taken care of after they die.   

You should name a primary as well as a secondary caregiver for your pet. It is also important to note that you cannot leave assets to your pet directly but you can leave them to the beneficiary you name as your pet’s caregiver.

#4. Items With Sentimental Value

Many times, items with sentimental items are overlooked when making a Will because they may not have much monetary value. Things such as family heirlooms, photo albums, and CD or DVD collections can be items that can turn into potential disputes if they aren’t written into the Will. An easy way to avoid this could be to allow your friends and family to choose items they would like before your death.

#5. Airline Miles/Loyalty Points

When writing your Will, you may not even consider putting airline miles or loyalty points in it. However, your family could miss out on thousands of pounds  if you fail to have these in your Will.

With travel picking back up, people will be racking up airline miles that could be worth quite a bit. While some airlines will not allow your miles to transfer to a beneficiary, many will if you have it stated explicitly in your Will.

Loyalty points have become very popular. With loyalty cards to hotel chains and local shops, loyalty points can accumulate into a sizeable chunk of points through the years. Again, the terms and conditions of each scheme will determine if they can transfer loyalty points, but be sure to include them in your Will, just in case.

What Happens to An Asset Not In a Will

If there is an asset that you leave out of your Will that is jointly owned, that asset will automatically go to the surviving joint owner. If the asset is only in your name and you fail to include it in your Will, it will be distributed under the Rules of Intestacy.

Let Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors Help With Your Will

Making a Will and keeping it updated is the best way to ensure all your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors is here for you, whether you’re making a new Will, updating a Will due to a significant life change, or adding assets.

The team at Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors have been providing expert legal services to clients for over a decade. We know how important it is to plan for your future, and we provide you with the advice you need to ensure that your assets and family are protected when you’re gone.
Contact us today, and let’s come up with a plan that suits you.


What Should I Include in My Will?

man with glasses

Most of us know we should have a Will, especially once we have children, homes, or other significant assets. However, it can seem quite daunting trying to learn where to begin and what to include. 

You probably have many questions about drafting a Will. Fortunately a solicitor can guide you through the process. However, you will need to prepare and have the correct information before we can draft your Will

In this article, we will demystify the process and ease the concern of what to include in your Will. We will discuss questions to consider upfront as well as how to update your Will. Having this information before meeting with a solicitor allows you to prepare everything you need before we meet. 

What Should You Prepare Before Instructing Us to Your Will?

A Will is a legal document that defines how to distribute your assets after you pass away. There are considerations as well as documentation that you need  before we can  draft your Will.  

Remember your Will can be updated whenever your circumstances in your life change. 

Before meeting with a solicitor the two most important steps to take are these:

  •  List your assets and their estimated value, as well as all debts, such as a mortgage or credit cards that you have. 
  •  Prepare a list of your beneficiaries. These beneficiaries can be family, friends or charities.

What Should You Include In Your Will?

Your Will will be used by your loved ones to distribute your estate.  Without a valid Will, your assets will be distributed according to the intestacy rules.  They define who gets your estate.  This might not be what you want..

Above all, it is crucial that your Will be legally valid and binding. Although you can create a Will without a solicitor, you leave yourself open to making mistakes that may have significant  repercussions to the distribution of your estate.

Below are the 5 most important considerations when writing your Will

#1.  Assets and Debts

It is important for your solicitor to know your assets and liabilities so that they can advise you whether your estate will pay inheritance tax and how to avoid this significant expense.  There is no inheritance tax payable between married couples.  However, if your children are due to inherit your estate,  at that point inheritance tax may be payable if it is over the taxable threshold.  We will guide you through the process and give you options to protect your estate.

Include all assets in your Will with a current valuation. ,  Periodically update the list and include any gifts you give in your lifetime.  


In short, an asset is anything of value. List and maintain a list of all assets, account numbers, passwords, etc. Assets include but are not limited to: 

  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement plans
  • Investments
  • Cash and cash equivalents
  • Safety deposit boxes
  • Real estate
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Pensions and loved ones you have nominated to benefit from them
  • Artwork, jewelry, furniture
  • Intellectual property such as royalties, copyrights, patents


Debt is anything owed.  Draft and maintain a list of all debts and their account numbers, the amount owed, etc. Debts to consider include, but are not limited to:

  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards
  • Bank overdrafts
  • Loans
  • Equity release

#2.  Distribution Of Assets

The distribution of assets is the delivery of assets to your beneficiaries

It is beneficial for you to plan what happens if any of your beneficiaries pass away before you? It is good to have substitute beneficiaries so that your estate always has beneficiaries.

If you want to set up a Life Interest Will Trust to ring-fence your assets, now is the time to do it. The purpose of ring-fencing is to keep your assets from ending up with someone you had not intended. For example, if you chose your spouse from a second marriage but do not want the assets to end up with their own children, a Life Interest Will Trust can be used to ring-fence your share of your property for your children.

Secondly, a  Life Interest Will Trust can help preserve your estate from care fees if you are a couple and the surviving partner requires care.

#3.  Charitable Donations

Your Will can include any charitable donations you would like to make.  Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors will include the charity’s name, address, and registration number to ensure the assets go to the correct charity.

#4.  Name an Executor

Be sure to include a named Executor in your Will. You may have more than one Executor but let them know and tell them what  their role will be.  It could involve a great deal of work, and they may not be interested or prepared to take on that level of responsibility. Always discuss the matter with the person you wish to appoint before your Will is drafted. It is better to find out now that they don’t wish to be named an Executor. 

#5.  Include Your Signature

For a Will to be considered valid, it needs your signature, and that of two witnesses. These witnesses should be independent and not one of the beneficiaries of the Will. We provide a Will signing service to ensure that the process is done correctly.

How Do You Update Your Will?

Your Will can and should be updated periodically. At least every three to five years. 

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors Specialises In Wills

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors are at the ready with an experienced team to assist you.  Contact us for more information about assistance with your Will, as well as your other legal needs for Probate, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Equity Release, and Settlement Agreements.


I Got Divorced. Should I Change My Will?

How Should I Change My Will

When you’re going through the emotionally draining divorce process, your mind probably isn’t on how you should update your Will. Divorce proceedings can become complicated.  It is understandable that you might forget about your Will entirely as you work towards finalising your separation. 

However, if you find yourself wondering if you should change your Will following a divorce, the answer is unequivocally yes.

There’s a mistaken yet prevalent belief that getting divorced will automatically invalidate your Will. While some changes do take place, it is important that you revisit and update your Will to reflect your wishes, going forward.

In this article, we will explain why you should always change your Will following a divorce. As experts in Wills and Trusts, we know the consequences of forgetting this crucial step and want to help you avoid making this critical mistake. 

Not Changing Your Will After Divorce Has Consequences

We advise clients to update their Will at the start of (or during) the divorce process or once it’s final. It can feel like a lot of work on top of everything else, but your lawyer can help you navigate the complexities. 

If you choose not to update your Will, there will be new complications in executing your last wishes.

Before finalising your divorce, all appointments and gifts given to your ex-spouse will remain in place, including executorship and guardianship positions. Even if you separated many years before divorcing, these clauses will remain valid unless you have a decree absolute

After you’ve received your decree absolute, however, your ex-spouse will be considered dead for the purposes of a Will.

Dying Before Finalising a Divorce

Because a divorce happens in steps, it isn’t recognised as final until you receive the decree absolute. Should you pass away before  your new Will is finalised., the law will still recognise all appointments and gifts given to your spouse in your previous Will. 

If you don’t have Will when you die, the intestacy rules will come into play but will act differently. Instead of going through your family, and if you don’t have children, the estate will go to your ex-spouse. If you have children and your estate is over £270,000, they will receive a share of your estate instead.

Therefore to avoid this complication it is crucial that you have a Will. Having a Will is the only method for ensuring your wishes are followed.

Ensure Your Future With Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors

To make sure your final wishes are recognised and honored, you need to review your Will regularly.  Ideally, this should be done every three to five years so that it reflects any changes  in your life. 

At Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors, we can help you plan your future by writing and revising your Will, obtaining Probate, drafting Lasting Power of Attorney and Equity Release. Each of these processes poses its challenges, but our firm has the expertise and compassion to help. 

Contact us to discover what we can do for your future.


How Do You Contest a Will?

Dealing with the death of a family member, a close friend, or any loved one is never easy. The last thing you want to have to do is contest a Will. However, you may believe that your loved one’s Will doesn’t express their true feelings or may have been altered or created under duress. Perhaps you have evidence that the execution of the Will was invalid.

There are measures you can take to gain some clarity and even contest a Will if necessary. In this article, we will cover what the grounds are for contesting a will and how you can begin the process of doing so. 

What Are The Grounds For Contesting A Will?

There are typically two legal grounds for contesting a will:

  1. The Will is invalid.
  2. The Will fails to make adequate financial provision for a close family member (or someone who was financially dependent on the deceased).

The grounds for challenging a Will may include:

Forgery – A claimant can challenge the validity of a Will if they have legitimate evidence that the Will was tampered with or forged in any way. For example, if the signature on the Will is not the testator’s (A testator is a person whose Will it is). 

Improper Execution – For a Will to be valid, two witnesses must be present when the testator signs it.  If there is any evidence that suggests that there weren’t any witnesses present, the Will may be null and void due to undue execution. 

Mental Capacity – According to the law, the testator must be of “sound mind, understanding and memory” when composing their Will. The legal term for this is “testamentary capacity”. The individual should be aware of the nature of their property, how they want it to be distributed. To contest a Will on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity, you’ll have to provide proof that the testator did not have capacity.

The First  Steps In Contesting A Will

Contesting a Will is a sensitive matter, but it’s vital to act quickly. You should consult an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to find out whether you have substantial evidence to make a claim. 

Once you get confirmation that you have valid legal grounds for contesting the Will, then you can file a “caveat” or a formal complaint at the Probate Registry Office. A “caveat” lasts for up to six months and can be renewed if necessary. By making a formal complaint, the probate process will cease, suspending the distribution of the deceased estate until the dispute is resolved.

Often, when you contest a Will, you can settle it through mediation. However, if the involved parties cannot reach an agreement, a formal court complaint or petition is then submitted to allow a judge to make the decision. Court costs can rack up rather quickly and take several months to resolve the dispute in court. Therefore, it’s best to try to negotiate an agreement outside the courtroom if possible. 

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors Is Here to Help

Contesting a Will is a complex process requiring authentic evidence and assistance from a legal expert. It’s futile to take on such a fight by yourself. 

Contact us to schedule a consultation today.


Why a Solicitor Should Help You Write Your Will

lawyers discussing

If you’ve thought about making a Will but haven’t gotten around to it yet, you might be tempted to write it on your own. After all, there are loads of DIY-Will-writing kits widely available for anyone to use. It can’t be that hard then, can it?

Before you attempt to do it yourself, consider the worst-case scenario: If your Will isn’t written in a way that means your exact wishes are carried out, what will happen to your beneficiaries and your estate?

Why Do I Need a Solicitor for My Will?

Solicitors have the knowledge and experience to ensure that your Will is written and carried out to your exact specifications and to the letter of the law. Today, we will take a look at some of the reasons why going with an experienced solicitor is the right call for your Will.

#1. Your Will May Not Be Straightforward

Making a Will can be more complicated than most people realise, especially if you have a complicated family situation. Divorce and remarriage, custody issues, civil partnerships, and other special family situations might require very specific details within your Will.

Solicitors know the ins and outs of drafting a Will for every possible family situation. They know when things like inheritance tax or care home fees might impact your beneficiaries. 

#2. Special Situations

Do you know what happens if one of your dependents feels that they are not adequately provided for in your Will? What about if a former spouse or child from a previous marriage makes a claim on the Will?

There are some special situations that many people never consider when drafting their Will. Unfortunately, unless you know the law regarding these situations and you understand how to write your Will to cover them, it might end up being very expensive to sort out..

#3. Foreign Property

It is not uncommon for many Britons to have property abroad. You may wish to leave a foreign property to your beneficiary, but the laws in every country regarding Wills and property are different. A solicitor will ensure that you have exactly what you need to secure these assets.

#4. Planning for Inheritance Tax

If your estate exceeds the taxable amount for your particular circumstances, inheritance tax may be payable. If you have children, you could be eligible for substantial exemptions. However, if you don’t have children, your beneficiaries could pay steep inheritance taxes. A solicitor can advise you how to protect your estate.

#5. Protecting Your Estate From Care Home Fees

We can never know what the future holds. Although you may not plan for it, you might end up spending time in a care home in your later years. The costs associated with being in a care home can add up. Many people are surprised to find they are responsible for most or all of the costs themselves.

Estate planning isn’t just for what happens after you die. The events that occur during your later years in life can deplete the value of your estate if you aren’t careful. However, a solicitor can help you plan for these events to have an estate to leave behind. 

Utilising as a Life Interest Will to avoid care home fees could help you preserve your estate for your beneficiaries. They can also give you peace of mind during your later years, so you can spend them enjoying your time rather than fretting over the future.

#6. Making Sure Your Wishes Are Carried Out

If you’ve taken the time to make a Will, you want to make sure that your final wishes are carried out. 

If you make any changes to your Will, it could invalidate it if they don’t comply with the law. This includes adding a page to the document or even writing on it in any way. Any changes need to be written into a completely new Will or added as a codicil. A solicitor can do either of these for you to ensure that your Will remains valid. 

Make Sure Your Will Works For You

To ensure your estate is taken care of promptly, having a Will is the best course of action because it ensures that your estate goes to people that you have chosen.. 

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors are at the ready with an excellent staff to assist you with your estate planning needs. Contact us for more information about assistance with your Will, as well as your other legal needs for probate, lasting powers of attorney, equity release, and settlement agreements.


What Should I Do if I Have Been Named the Executor of a Will?


If you’ve been named the Executor of a Will, you are likely facing a new experience that you feel unprepared for. 

The Executor is responsible for paying off any debts or liabilities the deceased had accumulated and is responsible for distributing assets from the estate to the beneficiaries under the Will. You might be wondering what you should do if you’ve been named the executor of a Will, and it’s understandable if you’re a bit worried about it.

Proving a Will (obtaining the grant of probate for a person who has died leaving a Will) is highly challenging, especially if you’ve never been responsible for something like this before. You may feel overwhelmed trying to balance all of the tasks expected of you as the Executor, and you might not know where to start. However, lack of experience doesn’t mean that it will be very difficult for you to fulfill your role. 

It’s common to worry about whether or not you will follow the deceased’s wishes properly, but with a few steps, you can ease that anxiety and take on the challenge with a clear direction. 

We’ve put together this article to help you identify what challenges you may face as an Executor of a Will and how to approach every one of them. Here are a few things you should do if you’ve been named Executor.

What is an Executor? 

An Executor is somebody named in the Will who has the responsibilities of handling property, money, possessions and debts of a person who has passed away. While it might sound simple, the Executor is responsible for finding out the assets, paying any debts and distributing whatever remains according to the wishes of the dearly departed. 

In most cases, the Executor is a relative or close friend of the deceased, which means that they are usually also mourning a loss while handling the emotional and physical responsibilities that the Executorship position entails. 

Sometimes, a professional is appointed as Executor, such as a solicitor. Usually, this is done in cases where a person has complicated affairs and there is a need to have an expert involved very early in the administration of the estate. 

Hiring a professional is also sometimes used in situations where there is potential conflict  within the family. The professional could save the family the potential for disputes to arise as to how the estate should be administered.  This in turn would save the estate money because there wouldn’t be the need to go to court unnecessarily. 

Suppose a family decides that a professional who the deceased previously hired is not needed,  in that case, the professional can be asked to renounce to allow the family to administer the estate   themselves. 

What to Do if You Don’t Want To Be An Executor 

Legally you are not forced to take on the responsibility of an Executorship. Maybe you don’t have time,  you’re facing a health crisis or your emotional state is simply too extreme. In these cases, you can sign what is called a Deed of Renunciation. Here in England and Wales, this cancels your status as an Executor and allows the other named Executors to administer the estate of the dearly departed. 

If there are no other named Executors in the Will, the beneficiaries entitled to the estate can apply for Letters of Administration with the Will attached.

Renouncing your role as Executor should be done as soon as physically possible before you’re involved in the process of handling the deceased’s estate. Things can get complicated quickly if you’ve already been engaged and then wish to back out. 

Your First Step After Being Named the Executor of a Will 

If you’ve decided to continue serving as the Executor of a Will, the first thing you should do is understand what responsibilities you will have with this position. 

Some of these are:

  • Identify all assets of the estate and value them
  • Identify any debts and liabilities
  • Complete inheritance tax forms
  • Apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration 
  • Pay for funeral costs
  • Pay off debts 
  • Distribute the estate according to the deceased’s wishes. 
  • Draft estate accounts to show all the monies that were received, any debts and liabilities paid together with the distributions to the beneficiaries

Those in charge of an estate may  also be responsible for acting as Trustees for children under 18, if any or if a Trust arises as a result of the Will. For example, if the deceased left a child a large sum of money, the Trustee is responsible for protecting and ensuring that the money grows until the child is 18.

The executor is responsible, in short, for collecting, valuing, paying off and distributing all assets of the deceased. You may need to contact external companies for situations such as valuing property or tracking down all potential debts a person had. 

What If Something Goes Wrong? 

You can be personally liable if there are losses to the beneficiaries or creditors. If you could have reasonably avoided a late fee on a debt, for example, you would be responsible for the cost of late payment. 

Executors are always advised to place Section 27 adverts in the National Gazette and in the local paper to notify any potential unknown beneficiaries or creditors. This protects them from any liability in this respect.

Let Us Help 

At Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors, we can help you navigate your new position as Executor of a loved one’s estate.  Our probate services can help you finalise the affairs of someone who has recently passed and help take some of the pressure off your shoulders as the executor of the will. 

We know how vital kind and sympathetic services are for you as you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one, and our team is prepared to help you every step of the way. 

Reach out to us and let’s talk. Let us help you ease some of the burdens that come with a loved one’s passing.