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Choosing an Executor

Choosing an Executor

Expert view

When you make a will you will appoint one or more executors.  They will be responsible for administering your estate and dealing with your finances and property after your death. 

Executors tasks

  1. Valuing all of your assets at the date of death for inheritance tax purposes
  2. Paying any inheritance tax due
  3. Applying to the Probate Registry for the grant of representation if required (often referred to as “applying for probate”)
  4. Selling or transferring your assets
  5. Paying any liabilities, including any income tax or capital gains tax liability that may have arisen during the administration of your estate
  6. Distributing your estate according to the terms of your will.

The executor must put the interests of relevant others before theirs. This is called a fiduciary role. They are personally liable if they make any mistakes such as failing to pay a liability or distributing to the wrong beneficiaries.  

Being an executor is quite a responsibility even for a straightforward estate.

Choose Your Executors Carefully

You can appoint as many executors as you want. But a grant of probate will be given to no more than four. If you want more than one, make sure they can work well together as they need to agree on everything. Disagreements can slow everything down or worse, end up in court.

If you'd prefer, you can appoint just one executor. If you are leaving your whole estate to one person, you could choose them as your executor.

There are three types of executor. These are:

• Individuals  such as friends or family members
• Professionals such as a solicitor
• A trust corporation

Things To Consider

When choosing your executor you should think about the following things to see how this might impact your choice of executor.

  • Availability – it is a time consuming role
  • Suitability – Think carefully about how suitable someone is to be your executor. Are they organised and good with finances?
  • Willingness – Are they happy to act? If they do change their mind, they can "renounce" their position so you might decide to choose more than one, or a substitute
  • Life expectancy – think about your executor's age and the likelihood of you outliving them
  • Conflicts – if a particular executor could cause conflict, think carefully before appointing them. If a family dispute is likely, you could consider appointing an objective professional such a solicitor
  • The size of your estate, how it is made up and its location – A large, complicated estate may require an executor with good financial expertise. If your executors live far away, this may present logistical problems.

Professional Executors

It may be worth considering the appointment of a professional or trust corporation if there are possible family conflicts or the executors live far away.

There are a number of advantages to a professional executor. They are:

  • Expertise – a professional is experienced in dealing with a wide range of issues
  • Financial - an expert can identify tax savings 
  • Availability – professional executors are available every day during office hours
  • Objectivity – a professional executor is impartial and is not involved in the emotional issues so decision making is easier
  • Peace of mind – you know that your wishes will be carried out properly and professionally
  • Longevity – You do not need to worry about your appointment failing as you would normally appoint the partners in that company, or a trust corporation

In addition to the appointment of a professional trustee, many appoint a friend or family member.  The friend or family member can be helpful in providing details of all of your assets, with the professional trustee bringing all of this information together and addressing the legal issues.

We Can Act As Executor And For Executors Too

If you choose your children as executors, you could let them know you are happy for them to instruct a professional to deal with the technical side of the estate if they find it is too complicated or onerous. Many executors are hugely relieved when they find out they can ask a solicitor to do some or all of the executor tasks.

We act as executors and trustees through our associated company, Orchard Executor & Trustee Company.  We usually charge for the work we carry out on an hourly basis, as opposed to charging a percentage of the value of the estate. We always try to give clients a good idea of how long it will take, and keep them informed should this change.

Planning who you want to be executor is one less barrier to making a will.

For further information call the Tax & Estate Planning team on 0117 926 4121 or make a Free Online Enquiry.