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Executor Duties

(71 Posts)
Marmight Mon 09-Mar-20 12:14:19

My Aunt died a year ago & I with my cousin are the executors. It has been a hard slog involving many phone calls, letters and visits to the solicitor and to my Aunt’s property 150 miles away, which I almost single handedly emptied. The will has been finalised and the bequests (all 23!) distributed. Some bequests were very generous, a few just a token of appreciation. I have received one lovely acknowledgement from a well known Dog charity, also phone calls from a neighbour and my Aunt’s carer but nothing from any of the other legatees including other charities and family members.
We carried out this task with love for our Aunt but AIBU in feeling a bit miffed and somewhat unappreciated for all the stress, worry and hours of work and travel incurred? A one liner would have gone a long way to assuage my ‘miffedness’!

rosenoir Mon 09-Mar-20 12:20:55

I have never been left anything in a will but if I had it would not have crossed my mind to thank the executor.

If I am left anything in future I shall do.

twinnytwin Mon 09-Mar-20 12:44:42

I was joint executor for my Father's will and every single person who benefitted contacted me to thank me for the work I'd done. They were all family members and an ambulance charity.

FlexibleFriend Mon 09-Mar-20 12:50:53

It makes me glad I've kept things simple just 2 beneficiaries.

Luckygirl Mon 09-Mar-20 13:20:39

I do not think that many people really know what being an executor entails till the day arrives.

My DD1 is theoretically executor for my OH's will, but in practice I did most of it as it was all very simple - he had nothing to leave but his share of the house - I had spent all his money on his care.

I have had acknowledgements from the charity who received the collection at the funeral. I think you should have had something from the beneficiaries.

I do not envy you having a house to empty - we did my FIL's and it was grim - we found an electric ear wax remover complete with wax - yuk!!

Squiffy Mon 09-Mar-20 13:41:31

Marmight I suspect that the beneficiaries who didn't thank you probably had no idea of what Probate and Executors' duties entail! I found it all-consuming when I had to do it and it wasn't until it was all done and dusted, nearly two years later, that I realised just how much it had played on my mind! Here's a proxy thank-you! flowers

Saxifrage Mon 09-Mar-20 14:24:37

A cousin and I were executors for an uncle a few years ago. As you say it was a lot of work. I don't remember much in the way of thanks but we did make everyone fill in a form to confirm they had received the money. The thing that most annoyed me was that one of the big national charities hassled us quite a bit when it took time to sell his bungalow. It’s made me think more about which charities are worth giving to.

Oopsadaisy3 Mon 09-Mar-20 14:27:22

Is anyone told that an executor has dealt with the Will, or do they assume that a solicitor has done all of the work? I haven’t been a beneficiary in a Will so I don’t know how it works.

Nannarose Mon 09-Mar-20 14:45:14

I have only benefited from wills in which I was also the executor. I agree that those who don't know much about it probably assumed the work had been done by a solicitor; although those I sent to had a personal letter from me (and co-executor) so I think they knew, and yes, responded appropriately. I agree that it would have beenthoughtful

I'd also like to say that as an executor, I spoke to friends and family, asking if they would like to choose a keepsake. I have myself greatly appreciated having such mementoes. However, twice I have lost friends, and not been invited to choose a keepsake,which I would have loved.

Witzend Mon 09-Mar-20 23:13:50

Saxifrage, I was livid with a major animal charity for a similar reason. Dh was executor for a friend who left the house where he’d been living with his wife, to the charity. She was well provided for in other ways, inc. another house, and wouldn’t have stayed in that house anyway, but was allowed to stay for up to 3 years.

The solicitor who drew up the will advised leaving the house itself to the charity, rather than the proceeds of the sale. He said otherwise the charity might well hassle the widow over why hadn’t it sold yet, why hadn’t it sold for more money, etc. He’d known it to happen.

Dh was in contact with the charity early on, so they knew the score. All they had to do when the time came, was to let the solicitors transfer ownership and give the keys to an estate agent.

Many months after they knew the score, they wrote to the widow, my friend, basically saying, ‘Oh, it’d be easier for us if you could just sell it for us and give us the cash, thanks very much.’

As if the widow didn’t have enough to cope with, getting rid of mountains of stuff, arranging a move, etc. The letter put her in a terrible tizz.

I’d have written a seriously stroppy letter back. Dh’s was more measured but still very plain spoken, and we heard no more about it. But I still can’t get over the blatant cheek of it!

M0nica Mon 09-Mar-20 23:54:32

It is because charities hassle you for money from an estate that I have left money to charity in my will, but not mentioned any specific charity, just saying I leave the choice to my children knowing they will bear in mind the charities I already support.

Nannarose Tue 10-Mar-20 08:20:54

Charities can prove difficult. Sometimes I think they are just run as businesses. However, I am aware of 2 similar situations in which charities were put in awkward positions.

An elderly person leaves their property (a bit run down, and with a big garden ripe for development) to a charity. Everyone close to them, including the executors, knows that they would have liked the house to simply be renovated, and they would not want the development of blocks of flats with little parking. However, the Charity Commission said that the charity was obliged to seek the best financial outcome (ie: from a developer). Had the property been left to relatives, they could have sold the house and garden to a family at a reasonable price, and donated that to charity.

kittylester Tue 10-Mar-20 08:27:33

After Mum's bequests were distributed, we had a beautiful, hand written, thank you letter from Scope.

GrandmaMoira Tue 10-Mar-20 09:06:55

I had to carry out the executor's role twice when family members died intestate (they both died young so hadn't thought of wills). You don't get any thanks for that either.

Baggs Tue 10-Mar-20 09:10:46

I expect very few of the twenty-three beneficiaries know you were an executor, marmight. Unless the bequests were sent in your name? But wouldn't they have come from a solicitor?

jaylucy Tue 10-Mar-20 11:24:00

My brother dealt with the probate for both of my parents. Neither had left a will and I must admit that when everything was sorted out (after several family meetings) I did thank him but not sure if the rest of the family did!
Since then he has been executor for one of my aunts - I don't think that he really got involved as the other executor dealt with it all - he just took over from organising the funeral to everything else ( not sure that some of requests were agreed with from his reaction, including holding the wake in a pub!) .

Kerenhappuch Tue 10-Mar-20 11:27:55

I was the executor for my mum's will with my sister, but I ended up doing a lot of the work for various reasons. It was very slow because she had her money dotted around in so many places, and I think the grief also made it harder to focus on what I was doing. Nobody thanked me at all, in fact I got a lot of comments from other beneficiaries about how long it was taking ... plus rather silly anecdotes about how people knew other people who had been granted probate within a week, and other unlikely stories! And no, nobody thanked me. I think they assumed a solicitor was doing a lot of the work.

It really is, or can be, a classic example of a thankless task!

mumof2boys Tue 10-Mar-20 11:29:21

When my mum died after a short illness not long after I had been executor for my fathers will, I took a few months longer than I could have taken due to not being able to face the effort.

Once it was all sorted my brother accused me of causing him to waste £4k as he could have had the money earlier to pay off his debts! We have barely spoken since.

polnan Tue 10-Mar-20 11:41:09

my dh died, the house automatically became mine..
but I had his long hoarded work stuff, diy stuff, his shed to deal with...I am trying to get rid of much of my "stuff" now to save ds`s from having to deal with it..

I think we don`t, generalising,, say thankyou enough, for every day stuff.. think we have forgotten to show appreciation, or perhaps to feel appreciation for even the little things that people do everyday..

NotSpaghetti Tue 10-Mar-20 11:42:40

This is an interesting post. I’ve been executor for three wills and it never occurred to me that I was the one to be thanked. It was in each case my last gift to the person who died. I just did it for them.
After reading this I will thank the executor if anyone leaves me anything in future!

harrigran Tue 10-Mar-20 11:48:09

Sadly it is a thankless task. My sister was executor for our cousin and she had nothing but grief from start to finish. My elder sister was left a sum of money but the rest went to charity and they were downright nasty.
I am determined not to leave anything in my will to the two charities that benefitted from 2/3 of a very healthy estate. Not only did they not thank my sister but sent a solicitor's letter saying that she should not receive expenses from the estate. My sister had to fly in from abroad and spend weeks clearing the house, which was a hoarder's paradise.

Brownflopsy Tue 10-Mar-20 11:48:38

I think the problem is that no one knows how much work is involved in being an executor unless they have been one.
It took three years to sort out my dad's estate and the whole load fell solely on me, eventhough I did not benefit personally from the will, as my sister was the beneficiary (long story).
It was a nightmare and led to many frustrating hours of gruelling paperwork, correspondence, meetings, house clearing/sale and expensive hotel stays. And it caused a huge rift in the family, as it sadly turns out that my sister is a compulsive liar - I have not spoken to her, or several other members of my family for over two years now and wish I had not agreed to undertake the role when our parents asked me many years ago.
Being an executor is a thankless task and I would never do it again. TBH I have not spoken to anyone who enjoyed the experience either.

Yve1 Tue 10-Mar-20 11:51:26

When MIL died my Husband was the executor but I did all of the paperwork for him. It wasn't too bad as she had a file with pretty much everything in all ready for us. No beneficiaries except for my husband and it took about 3 months.

I used to work in accountancy and we used to 'audit' some solicitors and their client files on a test basis. The behaviour of charities when they are left something in a person's will was shocking. They write frequently, chasing up how the matter is going and asking when they are likely to receive the money. It is treated as a business and the big charities have a department specialising in bequests. But they do come over as grasping and in some cases very rude. Every letter in and out to a solicitor depletes the amount of money left in the estate to distribute.
I made a decision not to include charities in my will because of my experiences through my work.

Hetty58 Tue 10-Mar-20 11:59:30

I'd never be an executor again. It's too time consuming. The beneficiaries would have no idea how much effort had been put into it - or whether a solicitor and house clearance firm had handled it all.

Therefore, no thanks should be expected. There is always the option to officially bow out before doing anything and let others handle it. So, it's optional and voluntary, not compulsory.

LondonMzFitz Tue 10-Mar-20 12:06:02

I was joint executor with Mum when Dad died, talk about treading on eggshells! She reluctantly went through finances with me under strict instructions sisters (1 older and alcoholic, 1 younger and heavy drinker) were not to be told anything regarding her money. However she wanted me to have a joint account with her with one bank that I could access for her own funeral costs, around £10,000 - that she did tell the sisters about. When she moved to a small town that didn't have a branch of that bank we had a meeting with the bank manager of the high street bank she also used, lovely man, who suggested putting the "funeral" monies into the main account, and all funeral costs would be met by the main bank account (which they did, good as gold). However Mum didn't tell my two sisters this, I found out a few years ago they both remain convinced I've had the funeral account to myself! and I know one sister has told cousins, Uncles and Aunts that. The work I went through in organising my mothers small estate (and doing a full time job) and the - I guess irritation is the best word - from knowing family think I'd rip my sisters off, I don't know how I've kept sane!

I found all the paperwork between me and the solicitors and did two sets of photocopies and sent them to my sisters shortly after finding this out; it was quite cathartic to show that it wasn't the work of seconds, it needed a lot of attention to detail, and in signing the official documents I wasn't about to "forget" about an account the immediate family knew about!