There are a range of different roles within a Will. Different people that are named in the Will could have different roles and responsibilities. Because dealing with a Will is not something that many people do often, there can be some confusion surrounding the different roles within it.

Two of the most common queried roles are ‘Executor’ and ‘Beneficiary’. Whilst the two roles are completely different, they do have a relationship with one another.

What is an executor?

When someone is named as an executor in a Will, it is their responsibility to ensure the contents of the Will are distributed according to its instructions i.e. to the named beneficiaries. There may be more than one person named as an executor in a Will, and it’s not uncommon for people to choose backups in case their first choice is unwilling or unable to carry out the task.

An executor can refuse to accept the role. They can also get help from other people in the form of accountants, solicitors or professional probate specialists. This is especially helpful when the estate is very large.

Who can be named as an executor?

A Will can name between one and four executors who must be at least 18 years old and of completely sound mind. Usually a person asks someone close to them who they trust to be an executor, such as a relative or close friend.

What is a beneficiary?

When someone is named as a beneficiary in a Will it means they have been allocated something from the Will. This could be money, property, shares or even a particular item such as a bike or some jewellery.

Who can be a beneficiary?

Anyone can be named as a beneficiary in a Will, regardless of their age or their relationship to the deceased.

Can an executor also be a beneficiary?

Yes, a person can be named as both an executor and a beneficiary within the Will. However, an executor has a fiduciary duty to refrain from taking any action that would benefit themselves or any other beneficiary at the expense of other beneficiaries. They are legally bound to comply with the rules of the probate process.

If you have been named as an executor in a Will and would like help with the probate side of things, contact us on 0161 907 4044 or