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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 31.05.2020, 15:47
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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.

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.
Sadly I had to do this from CH for both my parents in the UK, they were separated and both single at the time of their deaths. There are no legal restrictions on doing this.

My Mother's records were an unorganised mess, it was only that her financial interests were relatively small and simple that allowed me to complete matters in a reasonable time. I took in total probably a month in the UK off work to visit all the companies and officials needed to get everything done including sale of her house and car and sorting out the funeral arrangements etc.

My Father's records - despite his alleged good organisation - were also an utter mess, compounded by him having quite a lot of UK and foreign interests and assets. This time I took probably 6 weeks in the UK off work in total, but the efforts continued from CH for another year to sell his house and another 2 years again until the last item (some US shares held in a US stockbroker) were resolved. Then I had to deal with HMRC over an IHT refund because of overpaid IHT due to house price falls between the date of his death and the date of exchange of sales contracts.

My strong advice: if it's for family and you are the best person in the family to do it then agree to do it, but understand it will take more time and effort and cause more frustration than you would imagine - however in your case since it it's for a friend you should turn it down on the grounds of impracticality.
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