When drafting your will, there are certain key individuals who need to be listed. Among these are the executor and your beneficiaries. But can an executor of a will be a beneficiary?
Legally, yes, but there’s a lot more to it.
Should an executor of a will be a beneficiary, this individual will have a dual role – they will be entitled to receive their inheritance as outlined in the will, while also being responsible for administering the estate.
This can seem like a practical (and feasible) option, especially if the deceased had a close relationship with the chosen executor. It does, however, raise questions about transparency, impartiality, and potential conflicts of interest.
Acting as executor involves a range of responsibilities.
To officially become the executor, the individual must apply to the Master of the High Court. This involves submitting a copy of the will, the deceased’s death certificate, and a formal application to receive a letter of executorship.
The executor is required to create a comprehensive inventory of the deceased’s assets and liabilities and submit it to the Master of the High Court.
They must ensure all debts of the deceased are settled and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries as outlined in the will. Only after this has been done, can they apply to the Master of the High Court to officially close the estate.
Before agreeing to act as executor, it is highly advisable to reach out to a legal professional who can provide guidance.
Let’s also look at the difference between a beneficiary and an executor. A beneficiary is an individual or entity named in the will to receive specific assets from the deceased estate, while an executor is a person or institution appointed to administer the estate.
Besides the difference between a beneficiary and an executor, several other factors should also be taken into account:
Age and health: Professionals often have continuity plans in place. For relatives or friends, you’ll need to designate an alternative executor in case the primary choice cannot fulfil their duties.
Co-executor/agent: Nominating a beneficiary who doesn’t have the necessary qualifications to act as executor means a professional co-executor will have to be appointed. The Master of the High Court will ordinarily require that when someone without the necessary qualification is nominated, he/she must be assisted by a professional.
Emotional resilience: Being named the executor of a family member or friend’s estate can be overwhelming at a time when a person is grieving.
So, can an executor of a will be a beneficiary? The answer is simple: Appointing an executor who can navigate the legal and financial complexities of estate administration while remaining transparent is key.
This is where Capital Legacy comes in. There’s a reason why we’re South Africa’s #1 wills and estates specialists – we offer a full suite of will and estate administration services, all under one roof.
For more information or to arrange your complimentary will consultation, speak to your financial advisor or contact Capital Legacy.