A key decision when preparing your will is deciding who you would like to carry out your instructions after you die. This person is called your executor and you can choose anyone you like (or indeed more than one person) to execute your will.
You need to feel comfortable that you can trust your chosen executors to follow your wishes.
Your executor carries out the instructions you have left in your will after you die.
Even if your wishes and financial arrangements appear to be straightforward and simple, it’s not uncommon for the process to take a few months and there can be complicated elements to the job.
Ensure the correct amount of Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax is paid
Decide when to sell any property you may own so your beneficiaries receive the most money from the sale
Manage the division of awkward assets, for example if one child wishes to live in the family home, how can others be given a ‘fair share’ of the value
Anyone over the age of 18 can be an executor of your will. It is advisable to choose someone who is likely to survive you and is fit and capable of doing the job.
They also need to have no criminal convictions and not be bankrupt.
You can select up to four executors, however as they have to act jointly, appointing so many could cause the process to be overly complicated.
It is sensible to appoint at least two if you own a property or have a more complex estate.
It is also advisable to choose a backup in case one were to die before you.
Yes, there is no rule against people named in your will as beneficiaries being your executors, so many people choose their spouse, civil partner or children to be an executor.
But, remember, a beneficiary can’t be one of your will’s official witnesses.
Primarily, your executors must be people you can trust.
It’s going to be up to them to follow your instructions and manage any disagreements fairly. It would be advisable for them to be good at paperwork and useful if they had experience of managing legal issues.
Secondly, ensure your executors are willing to take the job on. They need to be prepared to see the process through over several months and able to manage the relationships between all beneficiaries.
Your family are a natural choice, it’s worth bearing in mind that choosing a family member as an executor can cause friction. For example, if you were to select just one of your siblings or only one of your children over another to follow your wishes, other family members may feel you did not trust them to be responsible.
It’s worth considering having an open discussion with relevant family members to explain your choice.
In the case of family friction over your executor choice or anticipated issues over how you have divided your assets, it may be advisable to consider an independent executor. This may be a close friend who knows you family well and can make sensible decisions, but could also be a professional executor such as an accountant or lawyer.
Professional executors will charge for their services, but it can helpful to have their expert knowledge and an impartial, non-emotional voice driving the process forward if family friction is likely. A professional executor can also help to take some of the burden off a family member who is likely to be grieving, particularly if this is your spouse or partner.
Once you have chosen your executor or executors, confirm their full name and address or email in your will so they can be found upon your death.
It’s also worth revisiting your executor choice every few years to ensure that they still meet your trust and requirements for the job.
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