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Calls for Change to the Law Regarding Who Can Act as Executor

An important consideration when writing a will is who should be named as executor for the estate

The Role of Executor

An executor is essentially a representative for the deceased and has responsibility for winding up their estate i.e. the decease’s property, money and possessions. This can involve preparing an inventory of the contents of the estate, paying off any debts or taxes and distributing the remaining estate to the beneficiaries.

If the will does not name an executor, or there is no will, then it is possible for one to be appointed by the court.

Carrying out the role of executor can be complicated and time-consuming work, and therefore the decision of who to appoint as your executor is an important one.

Murderer Acting as Executor of Victim’s Estate

The question of who can act as an executor in Scotland has been the subject of considerable debate recently, particularly in relation to whether someone who has been convicted of murder should be allowed to act as the executor of their victim’s estate.

The debate follows a tragic case where a woman was murdered by her son at the house they shared in Dunfermline. In 2015 a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh found Colin Taggart guilty of murdering Carol Taggart and then hiding her body underneath a caravan at Pettycur Bay Caravan Park near Kinghorn in Fife, reports the Dunfermline Press. He is now serving a life sentence.

He was named as executor in his mother’s will and reportedly has been using the position to block any attempts by his sister, Lorraine Bristow, to enter their mother’s house to retrieve photographs and other personal items that she would like keep as mementos of her mother. The house has apparently been empty since Carol’s death, with Police Scotland and Mr Taggart’s lawyers the only ones to have accessed it.

Online Petition Launched

Mrs Bristow’s husband, Stephen, has now launched an online petition, calling for a change to the law in Scotland to prevent convicted murderers from acting as executors for their victims.

Speaking to the Dunfermline Press, Mr Bristow explained: "He's a convicted murderer serving a life sentence and yet he holds sway over the estate of the person he murdered and prevents his sister from getting some peace of mind."

The petition says:

“We would like to see a change in Scots Law that would prevent convicted murderers from being able to act as Administrator/Executor of the estate of the person they were convicted of killing.”

It highlights that the current situation means that Lorraine and her father have been left unable to move on with their lives and need to find some sort of closure.

The petition has now attracted over 9,000 signatures and according to the Press, the matter is likely to be raised in the Scottish Parliament.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government has apparently acknowledged the issues contained in the petition, and said that the Government is due to conduct a consultation exercise over proposed reforms to the law of succession in Scotland.

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Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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