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asked to be executor/trustee but confused(8 Posts)
I'd like some advice.
A(male) friend has asked me to be an executor of his will, although it now seems I'm a trustee (no discussion of this, the lawyer asked for my address and mentioned it in passing).
No one has explained the role to me so I'm not sure what it means. The other executor (or is it trustee) doesn't seem to appear on the paperwork and instead it is currently me (age 52, the same age as the will maker) and his mother (age 78...).
The estate,in the event of my friend's death, will all go to the daughter, who is 13, estranged, and currently living with her mother. The father (my friend) has a terrible relationship with his ex wife, and they do not talk. He is worried the ex wife will try and get his hands on the money even when the daughter is older than 18 and my brief is to not allow it. There are likely to be assets (property) worth around 3-4 million so there is cash at stake.
So: I am slightly worried about this situation. What would be my role if trustee or executor. How much time could this all take take? What skills will I need? I am trustworthy but rubbish at - and despise - all paperwork. I do not want to be dragged into a war with the mother either. Do I need to make sure that there is a line allowing me to outsource paperwork etc to an accountant/solicitor and have it paid for out of the estate. I am single parent with three younger children so I don't have a great deal of time. What do I need to ask?
I've been an executor and it involves a lot of paperwork. I also had to do the IHT return which was a total pain in the backside, and I had it relatively easy as I knew the finances of the deceased having been a power of attorney. Personally I would refuse to take it on, particularly as it sounds potentially problematic and involves a lot of money. I think if you are a professional(e.g solicitor friend) you can charge for your work, but if you are a friend you can only claim reasonable expenses. I would tell him to appoint a solicitor/firm to be the executors in this case; they can deal with the ex wife.
As executor (sorting out the estate) you have an absolute right to employ a solicitor, charged to the estate. You would be mad not to with an estate that size, and a child beneficiary.
As Trustee, your job is administering the trusts arising from the will, until the daughter takes her share absolutely.
TBH, it sounds like this is not the job for you. He should really appoint professionals, it isn't fair to put someone in this position when clearly there's money enough to pay someone to deal with the inevitable fights.
Thank you both. What does it even mean to administer trusts?
The trust is until the daughter turns forty - by which time I will be in my eighties! I think my friend wants me to do this as he feels that I will fight on his daughter's behalf. But I have no financial skills: I can barely file my own tax return and I hate all paperwork.
What information should I ask him before I make my decision? He has told me nothing (named me as an executor and then asked if that was alright, and I said ok, and now I've just heard from the lawyer that I'm also a trustee, but that was never discussed). I suggested I called the lawyer to find out more, but he said no, although he has said he could arrange a meeting between us to explain more.
I'd like to know, in the unlikely event of my friends death, who else are trustees/executors, whether we can appoint someone to manage the paperwork, my own liability, the size of the estate etc what kind of challenges I might expect from the mother. I tried to ask this but he texted back saying it seemed I wasn't committed. He is under a lot of stress at the moment (with his divorce) and doesn't seem to have the space to discuss this.
It sounds like he wants to dump the responsibility and not pay for the solicitor to manage the trust.
unless i'm mistaken he can appoint a trustee separate from the executor.
His first mistake was naming you as executor and trustee without asking you first. Of course you're not committed!
I would tell him you are not in a position to take on the task. I am the sole beneficiary of my recently deceased aunt's estate and I have told the executor to instruct a solicitor and charge it to the estate. And it's nowhere near the size of your "friend"'s estate!
Even if you are named you can decline to take it on at the time
I think - though I don't know for certain - that in the hopefully unlikely event you were called upon to deal with this, you would absolutely be entitled to appoint whichever professionals you needed to advise / do the work. I suggest you say something to your friend along the lines of "you realise I'd need to pay people to deal with this if the worst happened". Probably they'll give you a reassuring response along the lines of "of course".
An advantage of them not naming professionals in the will is that there is then a choice of who to appoint at the time it is needed, and control of overinflated charges and slow progress that can happen I believe.
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