Can a Will Executor Be a Beneficiary?

For most people, Wills aren’t something they encounter every day. This means that they can have a number of questions about dealing with a Will after the death of a loved one.

One of the most common questions about this is whether a Will executor can also be a named beneficiary.

The answer is yes – a Will executor can also be a beneficiary. And it is quite common for this to be the case. So if you’re thinking about making a Will, it can be useful to be aware of this.

Difference between executor and beneficiary

A Will executor is the person who has been chosen by the deceased to carry out the instructions set out in the Will. You can choose up to four executors, but most people choose two – with one as a substitute in case your first choice is unable to carry out the duties of executor.

It’s advisable to choose someone organised and responsible as the executor of your Will. This is because they will have a number of important jobs to do.

These include applying for probate, calculating the value of the estate, paying off any debts, finding your beneficiaries and distributing your assets. They may also have to decide when to sell your property so that beneficiaries get the most money for it.

It is also a good idea to discuss your decision with your chosen executor when making your Will. This ensures they are not surprised by their duties in the event of your death. If something goes wrong during the estate administration, the executor can be held liable so it’s important to make sure they know what is going to be expected of them.

Most people choose family members or friends as their executors, but you can also appoint a professional, such as a Wills and probate solicitor. It could be a good idea to choose one close relative or friend and one professional, as they have legal knowledge that might be useful.

A beneficiary is someone who will inherit something from the deceased. They are named in the Will. You can choose whoever you want as a beneficiary, with most people choosing to leave their assets to their family members, friends or charities close to their hearts.

You can leave different types of assets to your beneficiaries. These include:

  • A specific amount of money – known as a pecuniary bequest
  • A percentage of your estate – known as a residuary bequest
  • A specific item – known as a specific bequest

It’s important to remember than beneficiaries will only receive their inheritance when all your debts have been paid off. This may result in them not receiving the full amount you set out in your Will. If you have any questions about this, a solicitor will be able to explain everything.

Can a Will witness be a beneficiary?

No, a beneficiary cannot witness a Will being made or signed. A beneficiary’s spouse or civil partner – or other relatives – should not act as a witness either. You will need two totally independent witnesses. They should be aged over 18, be able to visually confirm that you signed your Will, and have the mental capacity to understand what is being signed.

Witnessing a Will can be done in person or via video during the coronavirus pandemic. The government said it will amend the law to legalise the video witnessing of Wills, backdating it to 31 January 2020. It will remain in place “as long as necessary”.

If a beneficiary does act as a witness to a Will, they will not invalidate the document but they will lose their claim to any inheritance set out in the Will.

To find out more about the rules surrounding Wills and estate administration, speak to a qualified solicitor. First4Lawyers can help you find the right solicitor to help you through this emotional and potentially confusing time.

Just give us a call, request a call back or make an enquiry online.


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