After deciding who gets what, the second most important decision you will have to make when writing your Will is who your executors will be. Here we explain the role of the executor to help you make a suitable choice.
The executors of a Will are the representatives who have been chosen to ‘administer’ the estate and, ultimately, ensure the exact wishes of the deceased are carried out. It is important to choose wisely; the right executor will ensure your Will is administered smoothly and conflict is avoided.
We recommend you name a minimum of two executors and a maximum of four. Any Trust formed as part of a Will must have two executors.
To help you with your decision, you should consider:
Availability – Are they likely to be available to carry out the required duties? The Probate Office estimates that the process of administering an estate can take an average 80 hours of a person’s time.
Suitability – Are you confident that they have the right disposition and ability to carry our the duties in an honest and responsible way?
Willingness – Have you asked them if they are happy to be given the role?
Age – Is there a strong possibility they could die before you?
Who would make a good executor?
The ideal person for the role would be someone you consider to be honest and to have good morals. Perhaps most importantly, you must be able to trust that they will adhere to your wishes after you have gone. If you prefer, you can appoint independent executors; this may be advisable if your wishes are contentious or could lead to a personal dispute.
The role and responsibilities of the executor
Your executor will be required to:
- Establish the estate. They will need to gather together all information regarding the Estate including any assets, property or bank accounts, as well as any outstanding debts
- Notify relevant organisations of the person’s death, such as HMRC, the Council, banks and utility companies
- Apply for the Grant of Probate if required
- Deal with Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax and settling payment of any tax due
- Deal with any claims against the estate
- Ensure any outstanding debts and liabilities are paid
- Find all beneficiaries named in a Will
- Administer the payment of any legacies detailed in the Will and distribute the remainder of the estate to the correct beneficiaries.
There are certain moral obligations the executor must also fulfil and they:
- must act with loyalty and in good faith at all time
- must not act for their own benefit or the benefit of a third party, without consent
- must not make a profit from their role, unless authorised
- must not put themselves in a position where there is a conflict between duty and interest.
It is important to ensure your chosen executor understands the importance of carrying out their duties fully and responsibly. An executor could be held personally financially liable for any loss resulting from a breach of their duty – even if a mistake is unintentional.
Where there are ongoing Trusts created by the Will, for example where children under 18 have inherited money, the responsibilities of executors will also be ongoing. The trustees are commonly the same people as the appointed executors in the Will.
If you are appointed as an executor but decide you do not wish to do it, it is possible to ‘renounce’ the role, provided that the process of administering the estate has not already started.
Appointing your executors and/or trustees is a key part of our Will preparation service. We can provide further advice to help you choose the right person. To make an appointment to make a new Will or review an existing Will, please contact our Barrister Intermediary Sharon Rigden on 01772 431233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.