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How To Choose Executors For Your Will

How To Choose Executors For Your Will

Expert view


When you make a will you need to appoint executors. These are the people who will make sure your wishes are carried out in line with your will when you die.

It’s really important to choose your executors carefully and there are lots of options to consider.

Many people choose their loved ones or family members as executors and there are some real benefits to this, but there are some drawbacks too.

The benefits are that your family and loved ones know you well and you will have (hopefully) discussed your wishes with them so your will won’t be a surprise. But your family and loved ones will probably be grieving for you and may not be in the right frame of mind to take on lots of administration work to carry out the work of executor. They may not be aware of how to legally administer an estate as they are unaware of an executor’s legal obligations.

You might consider adding your children as executors in your will but if they are under the age of 18, they cannot act as your executors. Even once your children are adults, you may feel that the challenge of dealing with your estate may be too much for them.

If you’re married or in a civil partnership you might name your spouse or civil partner as your executor. But if you subsequently divorce or dissolve your civil partnership, they cannot act. Remember that if you do divorce or end your civil partnership, your former spouse is treated in your will as if they died before you so it is important that you make a new one so you leave your estate to the people you want. If you don’t make a new will, you could die intestate.  

It is important to consider the health and age of any executor you name in your will. If your executor dies before you, you should update your will to appoint a new executor. If you don’t, the law dictates who will act and it may not be the person you want. In addition, if you executor is not mentally capable when you die because of dementia for example, they could not act as your executor.

Consider the dynamics of the people you’re appointing. Executors must act unanimously so if you know that two people in your family disagree a lot, it’s probably not the best idea to ask them to be executors together.

Think about how many executors you want to appoint. One is fine, but can cause issues if your executor dies before you do and you will need more if a trust is created under your will. Checking and updating your will regularly will also help.

You may feel that it is easier to appoint a professional as your executor such as a law firm or a lawyer. This can be particularly important if you have a complicated estate or family as this takes all the pressure away from your loved ones.

Professional executors have a higher duty of care expected of them and a great deal of experience when dealing with the administration of estates. They are also aware of all the legal responsibilities of an executor and can advise on this. But it’s important to review the appointment of a professional executor regularly.

We recommend appointing a law firm rather than an individual lawyer so the partners at that firm can administer your estate when you die. Naming an individual lawyer can create issues if they have retired by the time you die.

Finally, remember to actually talk to your executors about your decision to appoint them. If you’ve picked two people who really don’t want to do it, it’s far less complicated to deal with this now than after you’ve died.

If you need to make or update your will, call our experienced and friendly team now on 0117 926 4121 or make a Free Online Enquiry.