How to choose an executor for your will (and why you should ask first)
By Maplebrook Wills
14th Dec '18
What is an executor?
When you decide to go ahead and get a will written, you’ll need to decide who to nominate as your executor.
The executor is the person who will carry out your wishes after you die – the person who will take care of your assets, including any property.
In fact, you can pick more than one – up to four, along with substitutes in case your first choices are unable to do the job when the time comes.
But it’s only fair to ask them first. It’s important because so much work involved. An executor needs to:
- Apply for probate (the legal right to administer your estate)
- Find and value your assets
- Pay off your debts
- Identify beneficiaries
- Distribute your estate to those beneficiaries
They may also need to register the death, make copies of your will, arrange your funeral, secure your property, obtain death certificates, and notify banks and other organisations. Not to mention dealing with outstanding tax returns and arrange payment of inheritance tax if any is due.
If the executor gets any of this wrong, they may be personally liable. And in the event of a dispute about who receives what from the will, they could even have to take part in legal proceedings.
Who can be an executor?
Not surprisingly, then, executors must be over 18 years of age and have the mental capacity to do the job. Typically, people choose close family members or friends for the task.
However, an executor can be someone who isn’t named as a beneficiary in your will as long as that person is willing to do the job. They will be able to claim reasonable expenses from the estate.
If people are just bequeathing their entire estate to one person, like a spouse, they’ll name that person as the executor. They can then choose whether to take on the job or pay a professional, such as a solicitor, to do it for them.
A professional executor may be preferable if you anticipate family arguments. If several family members take legal action over your will, they’ll have to pay separate legal fees to solicitors. Some of those fees are likely to come out of your estate when the dust has settled.
At Maplebrook Wills, we can talk you through all the options for choosing an executor to help you decide the most appropriate person, or persons, for the task.