When it comes to writing a will, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is who to appoint as executor.
This is the person who is responsible for carrying out your wishes after your death and making sure that your entire estate is dealt with properly. The will executor role is a large one and one that the administration of your estate relies upon to run smoothly.
So, how do you choose the right executors of a will? We cover everything you need to know to ensure you make the right choice:
What Does an Executor Do?
The executor’s responsibilities include valuing the estate of the deceased person, paying off debts, selling property, closing accounts, and distributing assets to the beneficiaries that are named in the will.
It is no simple task and can become complicated even if the instructions in the will are relatively simple – in fact, it is not uncommon for the process to take several months.
For instance, they might have to decide when to sell the property to ensure that the people who inherit the proceeds gain the most money. On top of that, they will also need to make sure that the correct amount of Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, and Income Tax is paid.
Will executors’ duties
To help you better understand what your executor(s) will be expected to do, we have put together a simple checklist of will executors’ responsibilities:
- Registering your death – they will need to register your death. The death certificate will allow them to arrange the funeral, apply for probate, and deal with your estate.
- Getting a copy of the will – once they have obtained the death certificate, they will then need to find your will, whether you left it in a safe, office, filing cabinet, or with a solicitor.
- Arranging your funeral – the funeral usually takes place within two weeks of someone’s death. You can leave your funeral wishes in your will so that your executor can arrange it exactly as you desire.
- Notifying people and organisations of your death – this allows them to freeze accounts and cancel direct debits to stop any further payments from being taken out of your estate.
- Valuing your estate – once the funeral has been arranged and the assets have been secured, the executor will need to value your estate to find out if probate is needed.
- Applying for probate – if probate is necessary, then the executor will need to apply for probate by applying to the probate registry. Once their application has been approved, they will be given grant of probate.
- Distributing your estate to beneficiaries – the executor will then have the legal authority to administer your estate in accordance to your will.
Who Can be an Executor of a Will?
More often than not, people choose their spouse, civil partner, of one of their children to be an executor. It is wise though to choose two executors of a will or to name a replacement executor in case one of them dies before you do or if they renounce probate (an appointed executor who refuses to act).
Moreover, at least one of the joint executors of a will must be aged over eighteen at the time they apply for probate. And you’re not limited to just two executors; four can act at a time, but they must act jointly in a harmonious way so that the estate is distributed as quickly as possible.
If you are not confident about naming executors who would be able to work well together, then it might be better to consider appointing a professional so that there is an impartial person in charge of your estate.
Can executors be beneficiaries?
There is no rule that prohibits beneficiaries being executors of your will too. It is common to name a beneficiary as an executor or as main executor.
However, it is perfectly acceptable to not name a beneficiary as an executor. For example, you might want your children to inherit your estate but you have a competent friend in mind to act as an independent executor.
The choice is yours, but if you do choose a beneficiary as an executor, make sure that they are able to consider the interests of the estate as a whole.
What Makes a Good Executor?
First and foremost, your executor must be someone you trust. You must be able to rely on them to follow the instructions in your will and to find fair solutions to any disagreements. Whoever you have in mind, it is always best to check with them first that they are happy to take on the role.
As we’ve mentioned, your executor can be a friend or family member, but it can also be helpful if they are adept at paperwork and managing legal issues. This is not essential though – many executors appoint solicitors on their behalf to administer the estate on a day-to-day basis, so they would not need to be financially literate or to have a thorough understanding of the law.
Additionally, it is desirable if the executor is organised and has the time available to dedicate themselves to what can be a very time-consuming task.
How Legacy Wills and Probate can Help
Carefully considering your executor(s) can save a great amount of time, trouble, and expense. Professional advice can help to ensure that your estate is dealt with in the best way possible.
Here at Legacy Wills and Probate, we not only offer safe and secure will storage, but we also offer professional support in all matters regarding wills and probate. As a leading provider of online writing services, our experienced team can help ensure that you choose the right executors for your will.
For more information on our services, don’t hesitate to get in touch today. Reach our team on 0333 344 4325 or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.