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Choosing a Will Executor

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Last updated: 02/02/2023 | Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

There comes a point in most people’s lives when they want to make sure that they’re estate is in order for when they pass. This will involve firstly creating a will to share out possessions and also choosing someone who will oversee the process of carrying out the instructions. This person is known as a will executor, but how do you pick one and what criteria do you need to consider? We have put together a quick guide to ensure you make the right decision.

In This Guide:

What is the role of an executor?

An executor's role is to make sure that the requests that you have left in your will are carried out. When you have named someone as your executor in your will, they have the rights to collate all the relevant documentation relating to your estate which they submit to the government probate registry. Once probate has been granted they will then action all the requests which you have left in your will which includes getting in touch with organisations affected by the passing, making sure that all taxes and outstanding debts are paid as well as ensuring the recipients of the will receive what is stated. In cases where the property of the deceased is to be sold, the executor will decide when the best time to sell the property is to ensure the best-selling price. It’s vital that the executor is completely aware of exactly what needs to be done in the event of your death as the process can be a long one, even with all the instructions clearly laid out.

Who can you pick as your executor?

Exactly who you decide to carry on your requests after your death is entirely up to you with the only stipulation being that they have to be 18 or over. There are no rules against naming a beneficiary as your executor so it can be someone named on your will. The more pressing question is who exactly would make a good executor when it comes to selecting someone there are generally two choices:

A Family Member or Close Friend

The most logical choice may seem to be to choose someone close to you and therefore trust to carry out your wishes with the best intentions. This normally means either a spouse, a close friend or family member. When making this kind of selection, it’s important to take into account whether or not the selected person is going to be up to the task as it can be a complicated and drawn-out process. It’s also worth considering that by naming someone very close to you to carry out your wishes, it can place an enormous emotional burden upon them which is why some people choose to go for a neutral party in order to enact their will.

A Professional

Many people will choose to name a professional such as a solicitor or accountant as their executor who although may not have been as close as a family member or friend, will be well trained on how to best deal with the process. If the financial part of your will is fairly complex, then this might be a good idea as leaving someone with little or no training on how to deal with this could prove laborious and counterproductive. Another benefit of naming a professional is that they will in the most part act in an unbiased manner ensuring that the will is executed in the most logical way.

However, there are two potential drawbacks to hiring a professional. Firstly is that they will, of course, come at a price and due to the complex nature of enacting someone's will, they can be fairly costly coupled with the fact that they may have no personal relationship with the deceased, means they not be looking to complete it promptly to ensure a smaller fee. Secondly, a professional will not be aware of any sensitive information that may not be available in the will which could result in a slightly calculated approach in what is a very emotional time.

For these reasons, some people decide to pick more than one executor to their will. In many cases, this will involve a mixture of friends and family to deal with the more sensitive elements and a professional to handle the legal and financial parts ensuring that the process is balanced. The maximum amount of will executors that you are allowed to select by law is four.

Do you need to pick a will executor?

While you do not have to select someone to carry out your will, somebody will have to do it. In the case of your not selecting someone specifically they are known as a will administrator. If no one steps up to the task, then there is a government office called the public trustee which will step in to administer the estate.

What can you do to make the executors job easier?

The best thing you can do to ensure a smooth process is to lay everything out clearly and make sure it’s well defined. When it comes to something as sensitive as a death, any ambiguities can become large problems especially when there is a large amount of money at stake.

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