What Happens If The Executor Of A Will Cannot Be Found?

Not being able to find the Executor of a Will can be very frustrating for the beneficiaries, even more so if the appointed Executor is the sole Executor. This can lead to problems as, when someone dies, their Will becomes the property of the Estate and a firm of Solicitors, for example, will usually be unable to release the Will to anyone other than an Executor (or with consent from all the Executors if more than one is appointed).

We have set out below the steps that you should take if you are unable to find the Executor.

How should I search for the Executor?

This may sound strange but you need to be satisfied that you have searched thoroughly for the Executor named in the Will. Conduct such as asking a few known friends whether they have had any contact with the named Executor, will likely not amount to a thorough search. In such cases, we would usually recommend that you try to find out as much information as possible about the Executor or there whereabouts. It may also be necessary to instruct a tracing agent using the information provided.

If there is an address for the Executor in the Will, this could be helpful information in tracking them down. If the Executor appointed was a solicitor, it may also be worthwhile contacting the SRA to see whether they are still practicing as a solicitor. Once you have exhausted all resources, then you can be satisfied knowing that you are unable to locate the Executor.

Are you an Executor of a Will? Read our Blog “What are My Duties as An Executor” for more information on what’s expected of you as an Executor of a Will.

Searching for an Executor of a Will

What happens if the Executor of the Will has died?

If an Executor in a Will has died, then they are no longer entitled to apply for a Grant of Probate and their right ceases at that point. What happens next, depends on whether the Executor who has died was appointed as a sole Executor and whether there are any replacement Executor(s) appointed in the Will.

If, in addition to the Executor who has passed away, there is a co-Executor appointed who is alive and wiling to act, then they can continue to apply for a Grant of Probate. However, they will need to explain on the application that the co-Executor has passed away and provide a copy of their Death Certificate.

If the Executor who has passed away was the sole Executor of the Will, then any replacement Executors appointed will step in and act as Executors in their place. Again, they will need to acknowledge on the application that the first appointed Executor has passed away and provide a copy of their Death Certificate.

If a sole Executor passes away and there is no replacement Executor(s) appointed in the Will, then under Rule 20 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987, the person(s) next entitled will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration with Will Annexed.

What happens if I cannot find any information about the Executor?

If, following your search, you have not been able to establish any information regarding the Executor named in the Will, then it is important that the Estate is not simply left un-administered. If you find yourself in this situation, then you will need to make an application to the Court under Section 116 of the Senior Courts Act 1981. Such an application will pass over an Executor and the Court will need to consider whether it is necessary to pass over the appointed Executor. If there is any dispute then it may be necessary to appoint an Independent Administrator to administer the Estate.

Taking advice in a timely fashion is important so that the right people are acting in the Estate Administration and the Estate is not left in abeyance. If you need any further advice or assistance, please feel free to contact us.

Contact us

☎️ Call our Wakefield office on 01924 290 029
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☎️ Call our Ossett office on 01924 586 466

The content of this blog post is for information only and does not constitute formal legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Thornton Jones Solicitors Limited accepts no liability for any such reliance upon this content. Where the post includes links to external websites, Thornton Jones Solicitors Limited accepts no responsibility for the content of such sites. Any link to a third-party website should not be construed as endorsement by Thornton Jones Solicitors Limited of any content, products or services which are outside our direct control.

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