Probate Question: Can an Executor Act on a Verbal Wish?

Probate Question:

My husband and I were appointed executors by our best friend who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 6-8 months to live. He wrote a will stating that after debts, funeral and testamentary expenses, legacies and inheritance tax are paid then any monies left should be paid to his daughter. He has no property, he lived in a shared house, and the only money he has will be his private pension when that is paid out. A couple of weeks ago he stated to us both that he wanted to give each of his brothers and sisters £1000 each. We advised him to write a letter and put it with the will. Sadly he passed last week, just 6 weeks after being diagnosed without having a chance to write the letter, we had to take him to the hospital as he was so unwell. Are we allowed to uphold his wishes even though it was never written but it was something he stated to us both.

Answer: Can an executor act on a verbal wish?

It depends.  Sometimes assets are left to the executors to dispose of as they see fit, and in this case they certainly have the right to act on a verbal wish and are unlikely to be challenged.   At other times they could get themselves in hot water if any other beneficiary feels they have lost out through an unauthorised gift.

That said, Minor Gift Schedules are quite commonplace, but they should be mentioned in the Will and should only contain things which are very small in comparision with the total estate and of very limited value.