What Happens to Probate if an Executor of the Will Dies?

Katherine Green
Private Client Solicitor

Having a Will with an Executor named in it who has died or dies during the Probate process can cause complications. This is because the Executor’s role is to administer the Estate and if they die, they can’t complete this role and someone else will have to instead.

Below we explain what happens when an Executor dies before you, after you, or when an Executor dies before and after Probate has been granted.

For free initial legal advice call our Probate Solicitors. For details on challenging a Will or if there’s a dispute with an Executor see Contest a Will and Contentious Probate.

Call us on 0808 239 4634 or request a callback

An Executor Dies before You

If you’ve written a Will and your Executor dies before you do, the best thing for you to do is to contact a Wills and Trusts Solicitor to update your Will. This is quick and easy to do and will give you the opportunity to review and update your Will at this point.

When you are making changes to your Will, make sure that you appoint more than one Executor. In the future, if one of them dies then there will be another who is alive and willing to complete the role of Executor for your Estate.

An Executor Dies after You

What happens in these circumstances depends on whether the Grant of Probate has been issued by the Court or not. Below we explain what happens if the Executor dies before the Grant of Probate has been issued and then consider what happens if they die after the Grant of Probate.

If you don’t want to deal with Probate yourself our Probate Solicitors can do as much or as little of the work as you need. See Full Probate Service.

Executor Dies before Probate has been Granted

Where an Executor dies after you but before a Grant of Probate has been issued, as long as there is another Executor listed in your Will it would become their responsibility to complete the Probate process on your behalf.

If they decide that they do not want to be the Executor of your Will or all of the named Executors in your Will have died, then in England and Wales, the Non-Contentious Probate Rules will apply.

The Non-Contentious Probate Rules state that a residuary beneficiary can act as Executor.  The beneficiaries will have to decide amongst themselves who will be nominated to complete this process. To make this practical, we would recommend that at least two beneficiaries are nominated to act.

Executor Dies after Probate has been Granted

When an Executor dies before they finish administration of the Estate but after the Court has granted Probate, the first steps are to see if the Executor left a Will.

If they did leave a Will, they will have named Executors in their own Will. Their Executor then becomes responsible for completing the administration of the Estate following what is called the Chain of Representation. The new Executor may need a new Grant of Probate in their name as this will show the link between the new Executor of the Estate and the one who died.

But if the Executor dies without making a Will, there can be no Chain of Representation established so the Non-Contentious Probate Rules will apply to the original Estate and the Rules of Intestacy will decide who deals with the Estate of the Executor who died.

You can see that when an Executor of a Will dies the situation can become complicated and with life expectancy in the UK growing, this may become more of an issue. That’s why it’s so important to keep your Will up to date and to act immediately if one of your Executors dies.

If you need help with updating your Will or you’ve been named an Executor in a Will and need help with Probate, call our specialist Wills, Trusts or Probate Solicitors who will be happy to help you.

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