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Do I have to act if I am appointed as an Executor?

26 January 2021

So you are appointed as an Executor. Now what? Katie Coates and David White outline the various options you have for accepting or declining an appointment as an Executor.

The election of a suitable Executor is one of the most important decisions when making a Will which is based on many contributing factors, both emotional and logical. However, as equally as important is the decision for the Executor to accept that appointment following the death of a loved one.

    Katie Coates

    Katie Coates, Senior Solicitor

    David White

  David White, Solicitor

When someone dies, the nominated Executor can have a variety of emotions and reactions. They may feel a sense of duty, where they do not want to let their loved one down. They may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of the role, particularly where the estate is complex or there is tension amongst the beneficiaries. Or they may feel lost as to what they need to do and when.

What are your options if you are appointed as Executor?

If you are appointed as Executor, you are entitled to decline the appointment and you are not bound to act simply because you are named in the Will. There are many reasons why you may feel unable to act as Executor, including your age, health, or family and work commitments. The role of an Executor can be time-consuming and, at times, emotionally draining. It is important that you are aware of the level of commitment required at the outset.

If you are the sole Executor and there is no substitute Executor nominated in the Will, you may wish to find someone who is willing to act and assume them as Executor in your place.

It is important to note that if you are also a beneficiary of the person’s estate, you will not forfeit your entitlement by stepping down as Executor (unless there is something specifically written in the Will to that effect). Seeking legal advice on the terms of the Will and your appointment will be able to clarify this for you before making a final decision.

Alternatively, you are also entitled to appoint a co-Executor to act alongside you. This provides an option to share the responsibility with someone else. In the event that you are unable to find anyone else willing to act, BTO offers an option for its trustee company to be appointed as an Executor.

How can BTO help if you are appointed as Executor?

The options for accepting or declining an appointment are various and BTO can provide professional advice to ensure you are aware of your options. If you decide to accept your appointment as Executor, BTO can also assist you in the day to day administration of the estate and your role and responsibilities as Executor throughout, to alleviate the stresses and pressures you may feel.

If you wish to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced Wills, Estates and Succession Planning Team, who would be delighted to assist you.


Katie Coates Senior Solicitor T: 0141 221 8012

David White, Solicitor T. 0141 225 4547


“The level of service has always been excellent, with properly experienced solicitors dealing with appropriate cases" Legal 500

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