What happens if an executor dies?

This can be broken down into two subsections.

The executor dies before the deceased.

In this scenario the reserve executor appointed in the Will shall take over the role and the responsibility shall fall on them to administer the estate.

Therefore, it is important when making a Will to name reserve executors.

If all the named executors have died before the testator, then in most cases the beneficiaries with the largest share of the estate would be able to apply to administer the estate.  

The Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 have set out the order of propriety as to whom can apply: –

  1. A trustee of the residuary estate.
  2. A residuary beneficiary.
  3. The personal representative of any residuary beneficiary.
  4. Any person who receives a gift (legatee) or a creditor of the deceased.
  5. The personal representative of a legatee or creditor.

The executor dies after probate has been granted.

If there is a jointly acting executor, then they may procced in administering the estate.

If the other executors do not wish to act or have renounced their role, prior to the named executor dying, they can no longer take the place of the deceased executor.

This would mean that the ‘Chain of Representation’ would need to be followed.

If the executor who has died has made a Will then their executor would need to administer both estates, as they would take on the role of the initial executor as per the Administration of Estates act 1925 S7(2) ‘ so long as the chain of such representation if unbroken, the last executor in the chain is the executor of every preceding testator’

If the chain is broken as the executor dies intestate, then the Non-Contentious Probate Rules outlined above shall apply.

Although they shall not be able to just carry on in their task they shall need to apply for a Grant De Bonis non with the probate registry in order to administer the estate.