Survey reveals tribulations of administering loved one's will

18% said they found themselves in position of executor unexpectedly

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Nearly one in five people who have been put in charge of administering someone else's will only found out about their responsibility after their loved one had died, a survey has found.

Some 18% of people who had been executors of a friend or family member's estate said they had found themselves in this position unexpectedly - only discovering they were required to manage their estate after they had died.

Overall, a third (32%) of adults in general said they had taken on the responsibility of executor of someone else's will.

The research, from the Co-op, found some people said being an executor caused animosity, some had to take time out of work to fulfil their role and some found the experience cost them a lot of money.

The Co-op, which has created guides around the issue, also found just over a fifth (21%) of executors were told they would be expected to take up the responsibility after their loved one had already written their will, making it difficult for them to refuse the responsibility.

James Antoniou, head of wills for the Co-op, said: "When writing a will it's important that people understand their options and that the role of an executor is properly explained. Making informed decisions on who should manage their estate can help avoid issues after death."

Some 2,000 people took part in the research.

The Co-op suggested executors could consider making a "to do" list to keep on top of paperwork, seeking professional advice and speaking to everyone involved.

There may also be other executors who need to be included in discussions about what needs to be done.

Priorities to consider would include locating the most up-to-date will, registering the death and notifying organisations, making funeral arrangements and securing any property left empty.

For those choosing an executor, the Co-op suggested discussing their plans with the executor before making a will and making sure the executor has the time to take on the role.

The Co-op's guides can be viewed at www.co-oplegalservices.co.uk/making-a-will/executor-top-tips.