One in seven executors expect to run into issues when dealing with the deceased's estate, new research has found.
Exizent, a platform for managing the bereavement process, has created a new Bereavement Index, which gathers insights from all those involved in the process, including the recently bereaved, financial institutions and legal firms.
Its research found nine in 10 of those who'd administered the estate after someone died found the process stressful. Worryingly, two in five saw their mental health decline.
So, how can people make executorship less of a burden on their loved ones? One way is by making a will.
Distributing someone's estate can be stressful and time-consuming.
That's why it's important to appoint a responsible executor. It can be helpful if they're good at handling legal issues as well.
Most people choose from their friends and family. It's best to appoint more than one executor or an executor and a substitute.
One in seven executors only found out about their role after the person who appointed them died, Exizent discovered.
Exizent also found that many people aren't aware of what the role involves. For instance, half didn't realise that executors are responsible for organising payment of all the deceased's unpaid debts.
The Bereavement Index found that 37% of accounts are only discovered during probate. In one in 20 cases, none of the deceased's assets were known at the outset.
We recommend keeping an up-to-date list of the assets you have - including bank accounts, pensions and insurance policies - to save your executors time tracking them all down.
It's best practice to review your will every five years.
According to Exizent, 59% of executors aren't confident that they're dealing with an up-to-date will.
A lost will can be a nightmare for executors. Make sure you store it somewhere safe and tell your loved ones where it's kept.
A secure, fireproof place in your home will do, but you could also consider leaving it with a solicitor or the Probate Service.
A will needs to be written and signed correctly in order to be valid. If you'd like advice on making a will, consider using a will-writing service or hiring a solicitor.
If you own foreign assets, dealing with your estate is likely to be more complicated. Some countries have different laws to the UK, so your will may not be automatically valid in those places.
You can help your executors by seeking legal advice, preferably from someone with expertise in the local jurisdiction.