Making a Will is not about wealth it is about making sure that what you want to happen to your estate does happen. It gives you the opportunity to specify such things as who will administer your estate, who will care for your children and who will receive specific items of your property.
`I appoint my best friend Jim Brown to be my executor but if he predeceases me or is unable or unwilling to act I appoint my cousin Jo Baker to be executor in his place.'
It is possible to appoint your solicitor to be an executor, even if he has not drafted the will and there are advantages in doing so.
Any prudent solicitor, though, will insist on reading your home-made will before placing it in his storage facility so as to ascertain that there are not likely to be any expensive and time-consuming problems arising from your drafting.
Do not take offence at this. It is better to have any problems pointed out while you are still alive and able to correct them.
No professional worthy of the name will insist you get the will redrawn professionally just to create an opportunity to charge you fees; if he turns pale when he reads your efforts you may be certain you have slipped up somewhere.
Alternatively, you could appoint another professional, such as an accountant, as your executor although it must be said that, if your finances are complicated enough to require an accountant, you probably need a professionally drawn will.
If you decide to appoint your solicitor as executor you can also appoint a family member to act with him. This can be helpful where there is to be an ongoing trust, combining as it does professional expertise with an inside knowledge of the family's affairs.
If a solicitor is appointed jointly with a family relative, then it will be expected that the solicitor will carry out the process of administering the estate. It would be very unusual indeed for a solicitor to agree to a lay person carrying out the administration on his behalf. Indeed, there would almost certainly be implications with regard to his professional negligence insurance if he did.
If your estate has dwindled by the time of your death so that there is very little to be sorted out, the solicitor will usually renounce probate, i.e. sign a document for the Probate Registry stating that he declines to take up his duties as executor.
The other executor may then continue alone. Even where there is a sizeable estate the solicitor executor may choose to renounce if asked to do so but is not obliged to do so. It is generally felt within the solicitors' profession that where a client appoints a solicitor as executor he did so for a reason and accepted that the solicitor would charge for the administration. It is, in my experience, very common for a client to express a view as to his relatives' behaviour after his death which is proved to be all too correct.
This applies not only to his choice of beneficiaries but to his choice of executors as well. A lay executor may also renounce if he doesn't feel able to take up his duties. Sometimes a will contains an appointment of another person as executor in substitution if one executor is unable or unwilling to take up his duties.
An alternative step to renunciation by an executor is the `power reserved' option. This means that one executor takes out the Grant of Probate in his sole name but it is marked 'power reserved' to the other executor. This means that the other executor can take out a Grant of Probate in his own right at a later date if he wishes.
In contrast, an executor who renounces does so once and for all.