Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary, too? This is a pretty common question! If you’re making a will, you might be worried about disinheriting your executor accidentally. Or if you’re settling a will, you might be wondering about the fairness of some of the gifts.

Don’t worry. We’ll explain exactly how it all works here, covering:

Any questions? Call our wills and probate team for free advice and support on 0800 054 9896 or drop us a message in the comment box below.


What’s the difference between a beneficiary and an executor?

So, are the executor and the beneficiary the same person, or is there a difference? Here’s the breakdown:

  • A beneficiary of a will is someone who has been left something in that will, like money, property or belongings. They benefit, essentially. Anyone can be a beneficiary in your will: spouses, civil partners, kids, friends and charities are all often made beneficiaries. You can also have as many beneficiaries as you like.
  • The executor of a will is the person chosen to carry out the instructions in the will when the will-maker dies. While anyone over the age of 18 can technically be the executor of a will, it’s best to pick someone responsible, well-organised and unbiased. You can have up to four executors, although two is a bit more practical.


Can an executor be a beneficiary in a will?

Yes, it’s perfectly legal to make the executor of your will a beneficiary as well. It’s actually pretty common. After all, the friend or family member you trust the most is usually also someone you’d want to leave a gift to.

At the same time, it’s okay if you don’t want to make your executor a beneficiary. Relatives and family friends can make good executors, but legal professionals have the time and expertise to settle an estate quickly and smoothly.

What about making one person the sole beneficiary and executor of a will? Also fine. In fact, when someone dies without a will, that’s basically what happens. The job of settling the estate legally falls to the same person who inherits all or most of it: the next of kin.


Don’t forget…

Even though a beneficiary can be an executor of an estate, there’s one thing they can’t be: a witness to the will.

When you finish writing your will, you’ll need to sign it along with two witnesses to make it valid. These witnesses can’t also be your beneficiaries, because that might call the validity of the will into question. For the same reason, someone who’s married to or in a civil partnership with a beneficiary is also unsuitable.

You can find out more about who can be a witness to a will here.


Can an executor benefit from a will in other ways?

Those of a cynical frame of mind might be wondering: can an executor benefit from a will even if they’re not a named beneficiary? What if the executor is also a beneficiary and they seem to be acting in a shady manner? Here’s the deal:

  • The executor can claim back any money they spend on settling the estate. This needs to be reasonable – things like the fee for the grant of probate or shipping costs from sending beneficiaries belongings.
  • The executor of the estate can also be a professional whose fee will be taken from the estate. However, if beneficiaries ask a professional to renounce their role as an executor, they will usually oblige without much fuss.
  • If you suspect the executor of misconduct – stealing money from the estate, for example – it’s possible for residuary beneficiaries to ask for estate accounts. These show you how the estate has been distributed.
  • If you find out that the executor has done something wrong, you can take them to court. Misconduct can be difficult to prove, however, and it’s best to get professional help before going ahead.


Make a will with Beyond

Haven’t gotten round to making your will? Not to worry. You can make a will right here on the Beyond site in just 10 minutes, with live support from our friendly legal experts. Find out more here.


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