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What happens if you die leaving a Will, but your Executor dies before you?

February 20, 2023

It is always best to update your Will if your Executor becomes unavailable for example if they die before you or lose mental capacity. However, this is not always possible in some circumstances, for example there could be a short amount of time between your Executor’s death and your own death, or your Executor could lose capacity shortly before you die.

What does this mean for your estate?

Providing that the rest of your Will is valid, the terms of your Will can still be carried out. Under Rule 20 of The Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 (NCPR) a beneficiary of your Will may act as a personal representative. The personal representative will be the person responsible for carrying out the administration of your estate and ensuring that the terms of your Will are adhered to. Your beneficiaries will decide amongst themselves who will act as the personal representative.

However, unlike an Executor who is given the power to administer your estate via your Will, any powers given to a personal representative stem from obtaining a grant of letters of administration with will annexed. This means that until the grant is obtained, a personal representative cannot do very much to help administer your estate. For example, a personal representative may not be allowed to enter your home to clear it or distribute any of your belongings before a grant is obtained. An Executor, even before obtaining a grant, is entitled to enter your property and manage the assets in your estate.

Is the process of applying for a grant of letters of administration with will annexed different to an application for a grant of probate?

A Solicitor can now apply for either a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration with will annexed online. However to qualify for an online application for a grant of letters of administration, there can only be one beneficiary in the estate. If this is not the case a postal application will need to be made and sent to the Probate Registry.

How long can it take to obtain a grant?

The grant is usually obtained within 16 weeks, but it could take longer depending on whether any additional information is requested by the Probate Registry.

What happens once the grant is obtained? Your estate will be administered as normal, and your personal representative will be able to help administer your estate and ensure the terms of your Will are carried out.

Sophia Kenna
Paralegal – Wills and Probate Department

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.