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Old 14.04.2010, 20:17
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Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

I have recently been asked if I'd be willing to act as executor to the will of a friend back in England.



While very honoured to be invited to fulfil this role, I am reluctant because:
  • I am not resident in the United Kingdom, and no longer have any property or interests there;
  • I don't have the kind of job that would allow me to take time off at short notice to act as executor.
Has anyone had any experience of dealing with these kind of matters while living in Switzerland? Is it even possible, or does non-residence in the United Kingdom present problems when handling the estate?

Any advice gratefully received.

Thank you.
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Old 14.04.2010, 20:28
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

I'm the joint executor of my mothers will, along with my brother. Fortunately never having to have had the will "executed" I really don't know what it entails. I suspect it would involve a significant amount of time in England. If so, I would be inclined to hand the authority over to my brother, who is indeed extremely trustworthy.

Never having experienced it, it's difficult to say what it would involve. However I think it would be safe to say that you would need to spend some time in England.
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Old 14.04.2010, 20:33
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

Being the executor to a will doesn't necessarily have to be a lot of work or require much time. I was the executor for my mother's will and I just handed the whole lot over to the solicitor. He liquidated all the assets, solved all the 'mysteries' and then handed over all the proceeds. About half way through the process we did in fact move abroad and I was able to do most things through email or on the phone. As I recall there was only one thing that I actually had to be physically present for, which involved an oath and a £7.50 fee, payable in cash to another solicitor.

The estate pays the solicitors fees before the beneficiaries are paid.

As to whether you can legally be named executor whilst being resident abroad, I don't know.
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Old 14.04.2010, 20:39
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

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I have recently been asked if I'd be willing to act as executor to the will of a friend back in England.



While very honoured to be invited to fulfil this role, I am reluctant because:
  • I am not resident in the United Kingdom, and no longer have any property or interests there;
  • I don't have the kind of job that would allow me to take time off at short notice to act as executor.
Has anyone had any experience of dealing with these kind of matters while living in Switzerland? Is it even possible, or does non-residence in the United Kingdom present problems when handling the estate?

Any advice gratefully received.

Thank you.
An executor can live abroad: http://www.peaceofmindwills.co.uk/faq.aspx#et4

Also see: http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/i...bate/index.htm

That is not true for all jurisdictions and all circumstances, but it is so in England & Wales. (I live mostly in London and was executor for my mother's will, probated in New York State. She was Swiss, and the rules for Swiss Americans are here: http://uniset.ca/misc/swissestates.pdf I was also lawyer for the estate, for which my mother had signed a special letter of authorisation as required under NY law. But I only needed to be in NY twice: once to file for probate with the court and once to negotiate the estate tax bill. I probably could have done both out of London.)

Generally the probate lawyer will handle all the details and the executor only needs to sign documents. For this the executor is entitled to be paid, although family members often waive fees when acting as executor. (There is something of a scam whereby banks and will writers draft wills for free or a small fee, naming themselves as executors and then charging huge fees after the will is probated.)
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Old 14.04.2010, 21:09
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

Yes, as Andy02 points out, an overseas resident can be an executor of a UK will. But before agreeing to accept the appointment, make sure you understand the personal liabilities you'll be taking on, and the ways you can limit those liabilities. A bit of googling will reveal all.
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Old 14.04.2010, 21:12
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

Thank you all for the information. You've confirmed what I suspected, which is that saying 'yes' to this would be a big mistake.
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Old 14.04.2010, 21:23
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

We have experience of being an executor & trustee of a will and all I can say is - don't do it.
You are legally responsible for many things - my husband got a bill for £6000 pounds from a solicitor as the estate had assets but no cash to pay their fees - as the only thing really worth anything was a property that someone could live in till they departed. I have heard horror stories even worse!!
I am an executor for 3 people but have now requested that they find someone else - it really is a thankless task
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Old 14.04.2010, 21:24
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

I had the same dilemma, and felt I had to say no for exactly the same reasons. This was shortly after my Mum died and saw the hugh amount of work involved, not only with the formal things (selling house, assets, tax etc) but dealing with all the personal effects etc. I feel it is better to be honest and decline than say yes to please and then not be in a position to do it proper service.
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Old 14.04.2010, 21:56
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

Yes it's possible and all above board.

If you're thinking of yourself when it comes to executing a loved one's last will, say no. If you love the person and are willing to accept the task they ask of you - as well as the potential riches / costs you may encounter - ask their solicitor to send you the forms, sign them and return without objection.

I see it as rather an honour to be asked. Whether there's anything material in it for me is neither here nor there, but it would be unusual not to be included in any potential pot. Someone who trusts me to deal with their estate - including dealing with potential dementia / illness / eventual death and the subsequent support of their dependents - is a bit like being a Godparent: one accepts it as an honour and it strengthens familial / fillial / societal bonds. Or am I missing the point?
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Old 14.04.2010, 22:07
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

In Australia there is the 'public trustee' which is a government department that can handle these things - I watched my dad handle all the things related to my grandmother's death - he was out of pocket over $50,000 before it was all sorted out - luckily he had that sort of cash around so could afford to manage it all and take it all out legitimately from her estate at the end, and be no worse off...I'd imagine the UK also has a 'public trustee'...

If there is any conflict/trouble with the person's extended family, messy business deals, or anything like that, I wouldn't do it - kids involved, debts involved...and being distanced from the person means you won't necessarily know what they have anyway - a family member of ours was still getting share notices of companies she didn't even know her husband had investments with - up to 2-3 years after the estate was supposedly 'sorted'!

I have been asked to be the executor of my dad's will - which is likely to involve complicated business (including various companies and employees) - but he has an accountant and solicitor who hold all the necessary information and there is money there to make sure it can all be afforded...

Likewise my FIL - same situation - FIL asked my husband to handle things - and he also has done the same - he has an accountant and a solicitor, and we would be able to use these people for the 'winding up' of all his finances...

I wouldn't do it for anyone else...nope...too messy...too much stress involved...
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Old 14.04.2010, 22:13
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

Just to clarify: This is a friend, not a family member, and I have no financial interest in the matter.

Wouldn't it just be simpler for my friend to hire a solicitor to deal with all of this? What is the point of getting a rather dim layman who lives several hundred miles away involved?
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Old 14.04.2010, 22:16
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

Quote:
Just to clarify: This is a friend, not a family member, and I have no financial interest in the matter.

Wouldn't it just be simpler for my friend to hire a solicitor to deal with all of this? What is the point of getting a rather dim layman who lives several hundred miles away involved?
Ask your friend why they believe in you to do it well
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Old 14.04.2010, 22:41
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

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Wouldn't it just be simpler for my friend to hire a solicitor to deal with all of this? What is the point of getting a rather dim layman who lives several hundred miles away involved?
Quite honestly a lot of people don't know what's involved in asking somebody to be an executor. Or don't think. They view asking a friend to be an executor of their Will is an honour - kind of like asking them to be their best man! Others think they might protect beneficaries of their estate from undue expenses by appointing a layman vs a professional executor.

It's worth pointing out that if you find yourself appointed as an executor, you can refuse the appointment.
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Old 15.04.2010, 01:42
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

Quote:
Wouldn't it just be simpler for my friend to hire a solicitor to deal with all of this? What is the point of getting a rather dim layman who lives several hundred miles away involved?
A solicitor always acts as an agent never as a principal, meaning he has got to take instructions from someone and no offence to your friend, but since dead men can't take.....

BTW this is almost always the way with a solicitor: they act as a agent and ultimately are never responsible for the actions of a client <g>, nice way to make your money.............

Jim
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Old 15.04.2010, 02:21
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

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A solicitor always acts as an agent never as a principal, meaning he has got to take instructions from someone and no offence to your friend, but since dead men can't take.....

BTW this is almost always the way with a solicitor: they act as a agent and ultimately are never responsible for the actions of a client <g>, nice way to make your money.............

Jim
Remember that even if you are named as executor you can decline to "qualify", i.e. refuse to serve. You will probably have sone idea of the solvency of the estate. There will normally be an alternative executor nominated failing which the public trustee may serve.

Executors' compensation is generally substantial if the estate is large. You may have to take out a bond and you can insure against some risks.

It would be unusual to name a "friend" as executor without assuring compensation and/or a legacy.

That said, you may be right to decline. You might advise the friend to think of a trust, or testamentary trust, instead. Probate can be costly.

There may be tax issues as well as liability questions. If you decide to consent (or think you may be named without consenting) read the Probate Service guides.

If the estate is or becomes insolvent, it may be made bankrupt (in the Uk, but not in the USA, where state law applies).
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Old 15.04.2010, 09:51
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

Because he trusts you I suspect.
Never never never ever allow a bank to become executor .Or for that matter a solicitor. Always use family or close friends if possible.




Quote:
Just to clarify: This is a friend, not a family member, and I have no financial interest in the matter.

Wouldn't it just be simpler for my friend to hire a solicitor to deal with all of this? What is the point of getting a rather dim layman who lives several hundred miles away involved?
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Old 15.04.2010, 10:07
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

DB say yes to your friend and if he dies transfer all his liquid assets to your bank account and some to mine.

Your friend must think highly of you. You must have been really good to him in the past.
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Old 15.04.2010, 10:13
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

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Because he trusts you I suspect.
Never never never ever allow a bank to become executor .Or for that matter a solicitor. Always use family or close friends if possible.
This is why:
"Will-drafting firms use small print to slice thousands off inheritances: Call for tighter controls on will writing after executors hit families with exhorbitant bills" (The Times, April 3, 2010) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/mon...cle7084894.ece
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Old 15.04.2010, 10:37
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

For simple uncontested wills - i.e all goes to spouse or sprogs - there's really no need to get a solicitor involved. Same as drawing up a will. (At least one under English law).

My sister-in-law and sister are the executors of our will. Actually, come to think of it, my s-i-l is studying to be a solicitor, so...
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Old 15.04.2010, 11:21
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Re: Executor for a British will, resident in Switzerland: Possible?

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For simple uncontested wills - i.e all goes to spouse or sprogs - there's really no need to get a solicitor involved. Same as drawing up a will. (At least one under English law).
Agreed, in terms of it being relatively straightforward. But you're looking at it from the beneficiaries' perspective. It saves them money. But even in simple estates, problems can and do come up for executors. If you screw up and it leaves beneficiaries out of pocket, then your mistakes might be forgiven by the beneficiaries if you and they are all family members. If you're an unrelated third party executor (friend of the deceased, but not necessarily a friend of all the beneficiaries), then the beneficiaries might not be so forgiving.
I know someone who was executor of his deceased father's estate. It wasn't complicated, but there was a house to sell - very normal in the UK. With all the emotion of the death and the funeral he delayed putting the house on the market. Then he was busy with work and travel, and the delay grew from weeks to months. The housing market was booming so nobody seemed too fussed and it eventually went on the market. But shortly after the credit crunch hit and the housing market came to a standstill; prices plunged. His delay potentially cost other beneficiaries £££. Executors have a duty to sell assets within a reasonable period of time. When they woke up to the position they were in, his co-beneficiaries suddenly got really pi$$ed but since it's all in the family they're not suggesting he should indemnify them. Might have been different if it wasn't all in the family. And even if negligence isn't proved, the angst you could be put through by disgruntled beneficiaries is worth thinking about. I think there's a world of difference being executor for a family member and being an executor of a friend.
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