Making a Will is essential in protecting your estate from passing to anyone other than your chosen beneficiaries, however, after you’re gone, how can you be sure that the requests in your Will are carried out with precision? Appointing an executor you can trust to take on this responsibility should ensure that all your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Choosing the right executor to your Will is one of the most important decisions you can make in life, so it’s crucial to consider this carefully before drafting your Will.
What is an executor?
One of the clauses you must include in your Last Will and Testament is who should act as the executor of your Will. An executor is the person or persons you appoint to administer your estate and carry out the wishes you have specified in your Will. Upon your death, the executor will be responsible for a number of tasks, notably:
- Notifying all the relevant companies of the death
- Determining which assets form your estate
- Preparing the Inheritance Tax forms to submit to HMRC with any necessary tax payment
- Obtaining the Grant of Probate from the Probate Registry
- Collecting in the assets of the estate
- Paying any unresolved debts you leave behind
- Establishing the identity of your named beneficiaries (those inheriting)
- Distributing the estate in accordance with your will
Remember, the person you choose to appoint as the executor to your Will could be held personally liable for a loss to the estate resulting from any actions they take or do not take, so you should choose someone you believe to be reliable, trustworthy and efficient.
Who can I appoint as my executor?
Anyone aged 18 or above can be appointed as an executor. In many cases, people choose close relatives or friends to act as executors as it can make life simpler when dealing with the estate administration. There is no rule which states that an executor cannot be a named beneficiary, and in fact, this is quite common.
It is advisable to appoint at least two executors and you can appoint up to four. For example, you may want to appoint your siblings or a couple who will act jointly in the process. However, if the executors you choose are either separated by a significant distance or the executors have never met, acting together and agreeing on decisions can become a lot more complicated and mean that the process can take a lot longer.
If you are only able to appoint one executor, it is advisable to appoint another as a replacement executor just in case your executor dies before you do or is otherwise prevented from administering your estate. In this case, you could choose a family member or friend as the primary executor and a professional as the secondary executor.
Can I choose a professional executor?
If you do not have anyone in your immediate circle of family or friends who is able to act as an executor, there is always the option of nominating a professional executor. This may also be beneficial if you know in advance that the distribution of your estate might be particularly complex.
Choosing a solicitor as one of your executors will be a smart move: after all, a solicitor will have the experience and expertise in Will-writing and estate administration necessary to navigate their way through the process with minimal delay.
Choosing an executor can be a difficult decision, but it’s one which you should take great time in considering before rushing to an answer. Our dedicated Wills and Probate solicitors are here to provide you with tailored advice when making your Will, including choosing the right executor.
We are also at hand to help those who have been named as an executor through the process of estate administration, reducing the stress involved and tying up the loose ends with ease and efficiency.