Do executors have automatic access to keys to a property?

Hi,  I am just putting together a new will for myself, I live in a flat and my executors will be a local firm of solicitors and a relative at the other end of the country.  Nobody other than myself has keys to my flat, I am wondering are there any barriers to the executors gaining access to my flat after I die?  My will once completed will be easily found in my cabinet together with funeral plan and instruction to call the executors, etc.  Sorry if this is a stupid question.

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  • MikeJXE
    MikeJXE Posts: 3,033
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    I live alone in a flat too, my executors are my 2 daughter in laws. 

     I visit both my families every Saturday and Sunday, they never visit me which I am ok with 

    My eldest son has a key but that is not the issue, he sometimes calls me but not every week, the rest of the family rarely call me at all. 

     If I die on Sunday night I might not be found till the following week end 

     Not so much a case of who has a key but how soon will anyone know ? 


  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Posts: 16,223
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    Keeping the original will in your flat is not a great idea, should you die in a flat fire they might not be much of it left. The solicitors can store your will and you can leave a key with them as well. 
  • Cairnpapple
    Cairnpapple Posts: 92
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    My (very organised) sister has sent me a scan of her will and also shared a spreadsheet that includes all her emergency contacts with columns that tell me who has a key, who could look after her child and for how long, and who could look after her dog and for how long, plus work contacts etc. 

    Now that's a bit overkill if you don't have a child and a dog to deal with, but you could send a copy of your will and funeral plan to your relative and either send them a key or leave a key with a friend/neighbour and let the relative know who has it. 

    Worst case scenario your executors can get a locksmith but it's more hassle. 
  • GoogleMeNow
    GoogleMeNow Posts: 333
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    jaytee28 said:
    Hi,  I am just putting together a new will for myself, I live in a flat and my executors will be a local firm of solicitors and a relative at the other end of the country.  Nobody other than myself has keys to my flat, I am wondering are there any barriers to the executors gaining access to my flat after I die?  My will once completed will be easily found in my cabinet together with funeral plan and instruction to call the executors, etc.  Sorry if this is a stupid question.


    My family are dealing with the recent passing of an Aunt who lived alone and had no children.  She had a Will and had appointed a firm of solicitors to deal with the estate and probate.

    Our main problem with this is that the solicitors are now acting as per the Will of my Aunt and are not willing to discuss or liaise with any of the nieces and nephews in any capacity (as they are not acting on our behalf) regarding any personal items that my Aunt has at the property.  We do not have a key and the solicitors, who do have a key, will not allow us access.  

    We are all being left some small monetary gifts but the property has been left to a neighbour (another story!).  My family just want to collect some family photographs that she had.  She was 99 years old so some of the photos are very old and show her family from many years ago.  These are part of our family history - they are of no interest to the solicitors nor the neighbour and we cannot understand why they won't either allow access or post them to us.

    It is for this reason I would not appoint a solicitor firm as an Executor.  By all means appoint some family members to be executors and if, at the time, they don't feel confident then they can instruct a firm of solicitors to act for them, but this means the solicitors will be acting on behalf of the Executors and will liaise with them during the settlement of the estate, rather than being blanked as we are being.




  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Posts: 16,223
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    jaytee28 said:
    Hi,  I am just putting together a new will for myself, I live in a flat and my executors will be a local firm of solicitors and a relative at the other end of the country.  Nobody other than myself has keys to my flat, I am wondering are there any barriers to the executors gaining access to my flat after I die?  My will once completed will be easily found in my cabinet together with funeral plan and instruction to call the executors, etc.  Sorry if this is a stupid question.


    My family are dealing with the recent passing of an Aunt who lived alone and had no children.  She had a Will and had appointed a firm of solicitors to deal with the estate and probate.

    Our main problem with this is that the solicitors are now acting as per the Will of my Aunt and are not willing to discuss or liaise with any of the nieces and nephews in any capacity (as they are not acting on our behalf) regarding any personal items that my Aunt has at the property.  We do not have a key and the solicitors, who do have a key, will not allow us access.  

    We are all being left some small monetary gifts but the property has been left to a neighbour (another story!).  My family just want to collect some family photographs that she had.  She was 99 years old so some of the photos are very old and show her family from many years ago.  These are part of our family history - they are of no interest to the solicitors nor the neighbour and we cannot understand why they won't either allow access or post them to us.

    It is for this reason I would not appoint a solicitor firm as an Executor.  By all means appoint some family members to be executors and if, at the time, they don't feel confident then they can instruct a firm of solicitors to act for them, but this means the solicitors will be acting on behalf of the Executors and will liaise with them during the settlement of the estate, rather than being blanked as we are being.
    Why is acting as per the will a problem? An executor would be failing in their duty if they did not follow the will. Anything not mentioned in the will is the property of the residual beneficiary and the solicitor cannot give you anything without the permission of that beneficiary. 
  • GoogleMeNow
    GoogleMeNow Posts: 333
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    jaytee28 said:
    Hi,  I am just putting together a new will for myself, I live in a flat and my executors will be a local firm of solicitors and a relative at the other end of the country.  Nobody other than myself has keys to my flat, I am wondering are there any barriers to the executors gaining access to my flat after I die?  My will once completed will be easily found in my cabinet together with funeral plan and instruction to call the executors, etc.  Sorry if this is a stupid question.


    My family are dealing with the recent passing of an Aunt who lived alone and had no children.  She had a Will and had appointed a firm of solicitors to deal with the estate and probate.

    Our main problem with this is that the solicitors are now acting as per the Will of my Aunt and are not willing to discuss or liaise with any of the nieces and nephews in any capacity (as they are not acting on our behalf) regarding any personal items that my Aunt has at the property.  We do not have a key and the solicitors, who do have a key, will not allow us access.  

    We are all being left some small monetary gifts but the property has been left to a neighbour (another story!).  My family just want to collect some family photographs that she had.  She was 99 years old so some of the photos are very old and show her family from many years ago.  These are part of our family history - they are of no interest to the solicitors nor the neighbour and we cannot understand why they won't either allow access or post them to us.

    It is for this reason I would not appoint a solicitor firm as an Executor.  By all means appoint some family members to be executors and if, at the time, they don't feel confident then they can instruct a firm of solicitors to act for them, but this means the solicitors will be acting on behalf of the Executors and will liaise with them during the settlement of the estate, rather than being blanked as we are being.
    Why is acting as per the will a problem? An executor would be failing in their duty if they did not follow the will. Anything not mentioned in the will is the property of the residual beneficiary and the solicitor cannot give you anything without the permission of that beneficiary. 

    Yes, I understand that the solicitor is acting as per the Will.  I have to assume that the residual beneficiary has not given permission for the family to have family photographs and that is a shame.
  • Malthusian
    Malthusian Posts: 10,838
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    We are all being left some small monetary gifts but the property has been left to a neighbour (another story!).  My family just want to collect some family photographs that she had.  She was 99 years old so some of the photos are very old and show her family from many years ago.  These are part of our family history - they are of no interest to the solicitors nor the neighbour and we cannot understand why they won't either allow access or post them to us.

    Have you made the neighbour an offer for them? If they're a neighbour you presumably know where to knock on their door or post a letter through the letterbox. You could also go via the solicitor, but for personal items of no material value like this I can't see a reason not to approach the neighbour directly with a reasonable offer if you can.

    Legally the photos may belong to whoever inherits the residual estate (which isn't specified in your post), but the chances of getting them by going legal are almost nil.
  • Malthusian
    Malthusian Posts: 10,838
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    jaytee28 said:
    My will once completed will be easily found in my cabinet together with funeral plan and instruction to call the executors, etc.  Sorry if this is a stupid question.
    Send a full copy to your executors certified by a solicitor, and potentially the beneficiaries as well if you think it appropriate.

    If the Will is lost in a fire (or lost by the solicitors if you ask them to store it, which is perfectly possible), your executors / beneficiaries will be able to ask the Probate Office to grant probate based on the copy, if they are able to show sufficient evidence that it was your last Will, and was not destroyed by you. (If your entire property went up in flames then there should be little question over whether you intended for the Will to be destroyed.)
  • GoogleMeNow
    GoogleMeNow Posts: 333
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    We are all being left some small monetary gifts but the property has been left to a neighbour (another story!).  My family just want to collect some family photographs that she had.  She was 99 years old so some of the photos are very old and show her family from many years ago.  These are part of our family history - they are of no interest to the solicitors nor the neighbour and we cannot understand why they won't either allow access or post them to us.

    Have you made the neighbour an offer for them? If they're a neighbour you presumably know where to knock on their door or post a letter through the letterbox. You could also go via the solicitor, but for personal items of no material value like this I can't see a reason not to approach the neighbour directly with a reasonable offer if you can.

    Legally the photos may belong to whoever inherits the residual estate (which isn't specified in your post), but the chances of getting them by going legal are almost nil.

    Apologies to the OP for derailing this thread.

    Just to answer this, the neighbour has been left the property and a percentage of the residual estate.

    I'm a niece, along with 5 other nephews and nieces, who all receive a percentage of the residual estate.
  • Cloth_of_Gold
    Cloth_of_Gold Posts: 707
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    We are all being left some small monetary gifts but the property has been left to a neighbour (another story!).  My family just want to collect some family photographs that she had.  She was 99 years old so some of the photos are very old and show her family from many years ago.  These are part of our family history - they are of no interest to the solicitors nor the neighbour and we cannot understand why they won't either allow access or post them to us.

    Have you made the neighbour an offer for them? If they're a neighbour you presumably know where to knock on their door or post a letter through the letterbox. You could also go via the solicitor, but for personal items of no material value like this I can't see a reason not to approach the neighbour directly with a reasonable offer if you can.

    Legally the photos may belong to whoever inherits the residual estate (which isn't specified in your post), but the chances of getting them by going legal are almost nil.

    Apologies to the OP for derailing this thread.

    Just to answer this, the neighbour has been left the property and a percentage of the residual estate.

    I'm a niece, along with 5 other nephews and nieces, who all receive a percentage of the residual estate.

    Did the will specify who would inherit your aunt's personal effects? If not, and it simply stated that you all get a percentage of the residual estate then that would surely include a percentage of the contents of the house. I would ask the solicitor how he intends to share out any of the contents of the house that have not been left to a named individual. 

    What you don't want is for the solicitor to pay a house clearance firm to take everything who will then sell anything saleable and take everything else for recycling or to a refuse tip, which could include the photos. Surely some common sense needs to be applied here. If the solicitor won't play ball then does the neighbour have access? If so, I would approach them and ask for the photos. Why would they not give them to you?
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