Are your children the best bet for the executors of your will?

This is Money published an article this week warning parents to be wary of making their adult children the executors to their will if those kids don’t get on.

Talking to the popular money advice website, lawyers said this could result in family strife and long delays in the administration of people’s last wishes, such as obtaining probate and selling the family home.

Jenny Walsh, a partner at Osbornes Law, said the sale of the family home was often the most emotive and contentious aspect. Her firm has seen countless situations where dealing with the loved one’s estate had “all but ground to a halt”.

Holding up probate

Long-held grudges and differences of opinion held up the probate process every step of the way. While appointing adult children as executors worked well for some family, it didn’t apply in every case and people should think carefully before choosing.

Emily Deane, head of government affairs at STEP said if anyone thought their children were not ‘mature’ enough to act as executors, they shouldn’t choose them. The same applied if there were existing or potential tensions between the children.

Conflicts could incur delays and further damage relationships.

Maximum of four people

Wills can be executed by a maximum of four people, with most testators choosing to appoint their spouse or another family members, though people often consider their adult children for the role.

With such responsibility, however, it is easy for things to go wrong and for there to be a breakdown in relationships.

The ‘ideal’ executor, the experts say, should be from the younger generation, be financially responsible and able to keep good records.

Inheritance feuds on the rise

Feuds about inheritance are on the rise, which lawyers say is due to the increase in property prices (and thus the value of estates) and the intricacies of modern life, with more people likely to have second or even third families.

Samantha Hirst, a solicitor at Ridley & Hall and who specialises in will disputes, told This is Money that probate is complicated, so it was to best to avoid choosing people who would be elderly at the time of death of who had a poor financial management history as executors.

Executors need to remain neutral, she added, and if one or more of them took issue with the division of the estate then there was an inherent conflict with that person being an executor.

There is also the option of choosing a professional executor to avoid any issues and the costs of this will depend on the complexity of the will.


Need to locate a will? Finders International offer a Missing Will Search service. For more information contact our Legal Support Services Manager Andrew Ritson on [email protected].