A key part of preparing a will is to select an executor. An executor is appointed to carry out your wishes and the instructions outlined in your Will when you die.
An executor’s duties are likely to include:
- sourcing your financial documentation and listing all assets including property, possessions, and money.
- applying for probate.
- sending death certificate copies to banks, employers, pension providers, utility suppliers. and any other institutions which hold your finances.
- opening an estate bank account.
- paying any outstanding debts and collecting any money owed.
- disposing of property.
- calculating Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax, and Income Tax, and making necessary payments.
- distributing the leftover money to beneficiaries in accordance with the Will.
Even if your instructions are clear or you do not have many assets, being an executor is a difficult job and can take a number of months to manage.
You can choose up to four executors over eighteen years of age and there are very few limitations as to who you select. However, there are important factors to consider when making your choice. Follow our tips to ensure your decision is the right one!
Do Not Go Overboard
Although you can choose up to four executors this is likely not the wisest move. We have all heard the saying ‘too many cooks’ and it most certainly applies in this case. Having four executors can cause confusion as they all need to act jointly.
Most people appoint two executors, and this is a route we would recommend. Having two executors means that there is still someone able to carry out the task if one executor passes away or is unwilling or unable.
Executors have an important role and the process can be complex, lengthy, and arduous depending on your estate. The role also involves financial work, including paying taxes, debts, and dividing funds between the beneficiaries.
It makes sense to choose someone who is confident with paperwork or legal and financial issues; however, above all else, your executors need to be people you trust.
Keeping It Personal
You can appoint executors who are beneficiaries in the Will, however, executors can only act as witnesses to a Will if they are not beneficiaries.
If you choose a close family member, bear in mind that not only will they have a challenging task ahead but they will also be grieving. For this reason, we do not recommend selecting a spouse or partner as the sole executor. Commonly people choose an adult child or adult grandchild, along with their spouse or partner so that the load can be divided as necessary.
Please remember it is vital to select executors who you believe are capable of carrying out your wishes effectively, not just people you have an emotional attachment to.
For this reason, it is best to avoid the ‘never gets anything done’ uncle you are so fond of, or your scatter-brained but loveable sister!
Speak Before You Write!
If you appoint executors in your Will prior to receiving confirmation from them, you will need to fork out extra money to get your Will altered if they are unable, or unwilling to accept the role. Take the time to talk to the people you would like to appoint first.
Don’t be hasty. Ensure that anyone you wish to appoint has a full understanding of what the role involves and give them sufficient time to consider it carefully. As this is an important and legally binding role you shouldn’t be surprised if people turn down your request to be an executor.
Going To a Pro
Choosing a professional is a particularly wise move if you have a complex estate, property abroad, or do not have anyone else who is up to the task.
A lawyer or accountant can be a good choice as your executor. They could either take on the responsibility as sole executor or share the task with another.
Bear in mind that choosing a professional executor will mean that they will be carrying out the work and will of course charge for their services and their agreement varies depending on the firm selected. They may have an hourly rate, a flat fee, or a percentage of the total value of your estate.
Selecting a professional has the following advantages:
- They are familiar with the work.
- They are not personally attached.
- They understand potential issues and obstacles and can overcome them efficiently and quickly.
- You are covered by their professional indemnity insurance
If you have no one you can ask to be an executor, you can enlist a government official called a Public Trustee.
This most commonly occurs if a Will has one single beneficiary and that person cannot act as executor, for example, they are too young or have a disability.
However, this really is a last resort as this route can be extremely lengthy resulting in greater stress for loved ones and beneficiaries.
The Planning Bee works with professional probate specialists and solicitors who offer a full range of estate administration services. We can fully administer the estate, obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration for you.
Contact us for a free consultation and a guaranteed competitive quote.