How do you choose who the executor of your will should be?

An executor is the person or trustee company who will manage your estate after you die. Your Will names the executor, and gives them power to deal with your estate in accordance with the terms of your Will.

Your executor must follow the directions in your Will. They can’t make guesses and change your directions even if they think you might have changed your mind.

Enormous obligations are cast upon an executor to gather in the estate, pay all testamentary debts and expenses and to distribute the estate in a correct and legal way. An executor is also responsible for applying for probate.

Probate is process of managing the estate and assets of a deceased person. A grant of probate is an order of the court that the executor named in the deceased person’s will is entitled to administer the estate.

A grant of probate is also the court’s official recognition that the will is valid under the law.

Your Executor Is Responsible for the Administration of the Estate

After a Grant of Probate is obtained, the executors are bound to gather in the estate. This term means that the assets owned by the deceased person must be placed in the legal name of the estate. For example, a bank account owned by John Smith would be placed in the name of the executor on behalf of the estate of John Smith. 

As part of the administration of the estate, it may be necessary to sell assets so that all debts and estate expenses may be paid.  In some cases, it is very unhelpful for assets to be sold as part of the administration of the estate and it may be more helpful for them to be kept intact and appropriated to beneficiaries as part of their inheritance.

It’s a big responsibility, so who should you choose to be the executor of your estate?

Above all you must choose somebody you trust.

executor, estate administration, estate planning, wills, estate battlesIt’s going to be up to them to follow the instructions in your will and to find fair solutions to any disagreements.

If there’s someone in your family who you think will handle the job well, it can be a good idea to have them as an executor. For example, it’s very common to name your spouse, one of your children, a niece or nephew or an adult grandchild.

Make sure you ask if they’re happy to do the job before you write your will, though – if they say no, you’ll have to get your will changed.

Think carefully before choosing your husband, wife or partner as your only executor. They’ll be dealing with your death, and by naming somebody else to be an executor with your husband, wife or partner, you can at least take the burden of the paperwork off their shoulders.

The majority of the tasks associated with being an executor are related to overseeing how your assets are distributed how and to whom you would like after you are gone. That means you’ll want to choose someone who you would trust to handle your money today, because they’ll be serving as your proxy, and by choosing a trustworthy person to serve as executor means you can be more confident your final wishes are being followed.

Picking a person who is able to carry out the necessary actions laid out in your will and other estate documents means you should assume this person will outlive you. For that reason, we don’t recommend making your executor a parent or older sibling, but perhaps a child, niece, nephew or close family friend.

Make sure they’re willing.

Just because you have a certain person or persons in mind to serve as your executor, doesn’t mean they’ll agree to serve as one for you. This role holds great responsibility and can be a lot of work, depending on the size of your estate. Be sure you have an in-depth discussion with the person you would like to be your executor about the responsibilities they’ll take on if they accept.

Choosing a solicitor as one of your executors makes a lot of sense, especially if sorting out your things is likely to be complicated – they’re experienced at the job and know their way around legal, tax and property issues. As more and more wills are challenged by family members in court, you may also find that a large part of the job will be to defend these challenges. It can make a lot of sense to appoint a lawyer as your executor who understands the complexity of succession law, and can ensure the process runs smoothly and efficiently. Time delays, family arguments and an inability to do the job can mean your beneficiaries will receive less than you’d like.

Of course, these professional specialists will charge you for their work. This happens in one of two ways:

  • By sending a bill for their time when your things have all been sorted out
  • By taking a share of the total value of your estate – this will be written into your will

For specialist advice about your estate planning or estate administration, please contact us today. We offer a FREE, 10-minute phone consultation.