If you are named as an Executor in the will you be entitled to administer the estate? If you are the only Executor, the decision whether to do the administration or to appoint a legal professional is entirely yours. If there are other named Executors who are living and who have mental capacity, you must reach an agreement with them about how to proceed.
Being named as an Executor does not force you to administer the estate and there is a legal mechanism for you to avoid this. You can either renounce your responsibility, which means you step back permanently, or you can step back from most of the work to allow another Executor to do this by applying for ‘powers reserved’ with the Probate Registry.
You need to be completely certain the will is valid in the way it has been written, signed, dated, and witnessed. You should be reasonably certain the person who wrote the will had full mental capacity at the time. You can be confident of all this if the will has been drawn up by a professional. You need to be more cautious with a ‘homemade’ will, especially if you have reason to think that someone may challenge the will and its provisions, for example, someone who was financially dependent on the person who died is not named as a beneficiary.You will want to consider if you know the other Executors, have a good relationship with them, and completely trust them. If a solicitor has been appointed as an Executor, which is quite common if they drew up the will, they may renounce their appointment if you want to administer the estate yourself, but they are not obliged to do so.Make sure you completely understand the meaning of the will. A professionally written will may use terms that have a very specific legal meaning, and which may not be the same as how the words are used in everyday language. An example might be whether money in a certain account is to be given to a beneficiary as the balance occurs on the day of death or as it was on the date of the will. The variation in wording is very small but might mean a significant difference in the value of the bequest.
A complex will, in the way it divides the estate and with many beneficiaries, will require a considerable amount of correspondence and work involved to ensure the legacies are dealt with.
A named Executor in a will has the legal authority to deal with the estate immediately. If there is no will (intestacy) an Administrator needs to be appointed by applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration which is the legal authority to deal with the estate.