Choosing an executor – things you should think about

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

When making your Will, you will need to choose who you would like to carry out your instructions on your death. This person is called your executor, and you can appoint more than one person to this important role. You can choose whoever you like to do this job, but as it can be onerous and involve a number of often unfamiliar tasks, it’s important to make the right choice.

When making your Will, you will need to choose who you would like to carry out your instructions on your death. This person is called your executor, and you can appoint more than one person to this important role. You can choose whoever you like to do this job, but as it can be onerous and involve a number of often unfamiliar tasks, it’s important to make the right choice.

Above all, you will need to choose somebody you can trust and who you feel has the skills and abilities to carry out all the legal and practical requirements. Administering an estate can be both time-consuming and daunting, especially if the assets are substantial. Whoever you choose will need to act honestly and conscientiously, and be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time obtaining information, completing documentation and dealing with taxation matters such as paying Inheritance Tax.

In order to administer an estate, an executor will potentially have to deal with a long list of people who have to be contacted and dealt with, including the Probate Registry, HMRC, banks and insurance companies, to name but a few. Executors can sometimes face difficulties in interpreting the terms of the Will, knowing how the law applies and working out how to apportion assets fairly amongst the beneficiaries.

Who can be an executor?

Anyone aged over 18 can be an executor. You can appoint up to four executors, but as they will need to act jointly, you might find two executors to be sufficient.

If you choose your husband or wife, you need to be aware that they may find it too much of a burden to act as sole executor at a time when they are dealing with grief and loss, so you may want to appoint another executor to act alongside them.

People often choose one family member and one professional adviser, such as their solicitor. The benefit of choosing a professional executor is not only the wide range of technical skills and experience they offer, but also the continuity they provide. They operate impartially which can be a benefit when dealing with any family conflict that might arise. In addition to acting as executors, they can also act for executors, helping to deal with legal, administrative and financial issues that a family member appointed as an executor might encounter.

If you are thinking of asking a family member to act, it’s a good idea to choose one from a younger generation, as there is less likelihood of them dying before you do. Whoever you choose, it’s essential to get their agreement before naming them in your Will, as if they say no, you would need to change your Will.

When you’ve made your choice

You should ensure that you add the full names and addresses of your executor(s) to your Will; this will ensure that they are notified quickly and can begin the work of administering your estate on behalf of your beneficiaries.

If you’re thinking of making your Will and would like to discuss any aspect of this important step, please do get in touch.

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