Can Executors Claim Expenses?

26 April 2023
When dealing with a will, there is lots of new terminology to wrap your head around. Firstly, there’s the testator, who is the person creating the will. Those who are left a gift in the will, such as money or a house, are called beneficiaries. The person who manages a trust set up for a beneficiary is called a trustee. There is also the person who carries out the testator’s wishes - they are called the executor.
Image executor of will
The executor of a will is legally responsible for dealing with the estate of the person who has passed away. The deceased will likely have left instructions in the will regarding what they want to happen with their assets and how they want them to be distributed amongst their beneficiaries. There is no law that states that an executor of a will can’t also be a beneficiary. In fact, this is fairly common practice. Oftentimes, the executor is also the main beneficiary.  However, you should bear in mind that the witness of your will cannot be a beneficiary; you must sign your will in front of two independent witnesses, who will also need to sign it.

Most people tend to choose a member of their immediate family to be the executor, such as their spouse or an adult child. The executor has to be over the age of 18. If no executor has been named in the will, then the court may appoint an administrator to carry out these tasks. If you are creating a will and you don’t know who to choose as your executor, you should think about who you trust the most, as this is the most important factor to consider, regardless of whether they are family or otherwise. Then you should think about their age - are they likely to outlive you? If you think there might be tension between your executor and other people you’re close to, be sure to speak to all of them so that they understand your reasoning. If you don’t think there is anyone you trust enough to distribute your assets, then you might want to consider nominating a professional, such as an accountant or a solicitor.

What Expenses Are Involved in Being an Executor?

Being the executor of a will and dealing with all of the administration related to an estate is a complex process and can sometimes take many months, with lots of paperwork, especially if the estate is sizable. What’s  more, it may involve various expenses. For example, there may be probate registry fees, and probate must be granted before beneficiaries can claim anything from the deceased’s estate. Furthermore, there might be funeral costs that haven’t been accounted for, solicitors fees, travel, and postage involved, amongst other expenses. 

However, the executor should not be left out of pocket after completing their duties, and they can claim these expenses back from the estate. Reimbursement claims must be considered reasonable. For instance, you cannot claim an hourly rate for the time you’ve spent working, even if you’ve had to take time off work. If the executor is concerned that they will be significantly out of pocket due to the time required to administer the estate, they could consider appointing a solicitor to carry out these tasks on their behalf, and the solicitor fees can then be claimed from the estate. 

Of course, when claiming back expenses from an estate, the overall amount that is left to distribute amongst beneficiaries is reduced. Beneficiaries are entitled to see the finalised estate accounts after expenses have been claimed. If the beneficiaries believe that an executor has made unreasonable claims for their expenses, it is possible to take legal action. The executor is legally required to to act in the best interests of the estate and all beneficiaries, and they should break down any expenses they claim as they are incurred.

If you need help drawing up a will, or you’re an executor that requires assistance with the administration of the will, it would be wise to seek professional support. Here are John Fowlers Solicitors, we have a team of experts who can help make the process as stress-free as possible. With that said, please get in touch at your earliest convenience.