Who should I appoint as the executors of my will?
There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with being an executor of a will – which is why it’s so important that you choose the right people for the job at hand.
Get things wrong, and you could risk the administration of your will being mismanaged, causing unnecessary conflict and division amongst your family members and loved ones at an already difficult time.
In this post, you’ll find honest, helpful advice designed to help you understand the rules regarding executors and their responsibilities, so you can make the right decisions.
Who can be an executor?
You can appoint anyone over the age of 18 as an executor. Common choices include:
- Partners or spouses
- Younger siblings
- Close relatives
- Close friends
- Professional executors (solicitors, accountants or the bank)
What does an executor have to do?
An executor has to carry out a number of responsibilities, and it can be a lot of work.
Responsibilities include collecting together information about all your assets, valuing your estate, applying for a grant of representation (probate), paying debts and taxes, and distributing your estate to your chosen beneficiaries.
For that reason, it’s really important to ask the person or people you want to be your executors before you name them. Executors can refuse to act if they don’t want to take on these responsibilities.
What should you look for in an executor?
The first, and perhaps most important consideration when choosing an executor is to pick someone that you trust. You’ll also want to pick someone who is likely to outlive you.
Outside of that, it’s sensible to think about the practicalities, and to choose someone who is well suited to the role. There is a lot of administration involved, so choosing someone who’s organised and has a head for figures is a sensible step.
You may also want to think about any family politics, and avoid picking divisive figures that other members of the family may not trust or like. This can help to reduce the chances of conflict and disruption, and of beneficiaries challenging the contents of your will.
How many executors should you appoint?
Legally, you only need to appoint one executor, but it is always more prudent to appoint at least two. This provides a backup for if one of your executors dies before you, or is away from the area or unable to act on your behalf for any reason at the time of your death.
Having a team of executors also means that they can share responsibilities, check each other’s work and support one another during the process.
The benefits of appointing a professional
Unless your estate is particularly simple and modest, it will be beneficial to appoint a professional executor as part of your team. Professional executors can be solicitors, accountants or bankers, and you will have to pay for their support (this can be taken from the value of your estate).
Once advantage of choosing a professional executor is that they can act dispassionately, without the emotions or family politics playing a part in their decision-making.
For most people, choosing a solicitor makes a lot of sense. A solicitor will have the broadest knowledge base when it comes to dealing with all the legal, tax, property and inheritance rules, and your other executors can come to them for support and advice whilst administering the estate.
More about wills, executors and probate
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