Quarter of unexpected executors lose the will

23 January 2017

A fifth (18%) of UK adults have had to unexpectedly manage a loved one’s estate after they passed away, according to a new study released today by Co-op.

Whilst a third (32%) of UK adults in total have taken on the responsibility of executor for a late loved one’s estate, the study reveals the effects that this responsibility can have on those left behind.

Over a quarter (27%) of executors said they found the role stressful, a fifth (20%) found the experience upsetting and a tenth (12%) said they had no clue how to be an executor and so sought professional advice.

  • 1 in 10 said it caused animosity between the deceased’s friends and family
  • 1 in 14 said they had to take time off work in order to take on the responsibility
  • 1 in 16 said they found the experience expensive personally
  • 1 in 16 said they lost sleep as a result

Furthermore, over three quarters, (77%) said they would find guidance about how to be an executor useful. For that reason, Co-op has created two guides for choosing executors: ‘How to be an executor’ and ‘How to choose an executor’ which detail advice on the following tips:

How to be an executor:

  1. Make a to do list
  2. Find out if probate is needed
  3. Be organised
  4. Speak to everyone involved
  5. Seek professional advice

How to choose your executor:

  1. Talk to Your Chosen Executor before Making a Will
  2. Appoint Trusted Individuals
  3. Check they have the time
  4. Consider a professional executor
  5. Make sure they can act as executor

The study also highlights that a fifth (21%) of UK 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. A further fifth (18%) were unaware that they would be expected to manage their loved ones estate and only found out after their loved one had passed away.

James Antoniou, Head of Wills for Co-op commented: “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.

“Our study reveals that two fifths (39%) of UK adults want to depend on friends and family to take up the role of executor when they pass away. My advice here would be to ensure an effective will is in place. If there isn’t a will in place, they can’t appoint executors and could therefore inadvertently burden a loved one with the role, which can become an unexpected full time job.”

Notes to Editors:

Research was conducted among 2,000 UK adults with Atomik research in October.

For further information please contact:

Emily Penkett: Emily.penkett@coop.co.uk / 07738621201 Lauren Hoult: lauren.hoult@coop.co.uk / 07702 505626

About the Co-op

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives and has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, The Co-op operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 employees and an annual turnover of over £9 billion.

Following the acquisition of Collective Legal Solutions in January 2016, Co-op launched Co-op Estate Planning. The service provides advice and guidance on a wide range of inheritance related legal issues and later life planning to many thousands of people each year, from simple Wills to funeral plans and complex Inheritance Tax planning.