No one wants to think about what we know is inevitable and hope is still a long way off, but when it comes to making a will it is best to be prepared. Too many of us don’t get around to it for one reason or another and it can create complications for our loved ones after we have passed. There are plenty of stories in the media about famous people who have done so and while we may not have the same size of estate that they did, it can still be a difficult process to die intestate.
You may have been thinking about preparing a will, but not finalised it because you are unsure of who and how to choose an executor. This month we delve into what makes a good executor and what you need to know to help you choose the right one for you.
The role of an executor
An executor’s job is important as they are responsible for making sure that your wishes are carried out. Depending on what you have set out in your will, this could be a complicated job regardless of how straightforward your will may be. For example, if you have property that is to be sold with the proceedings going to your beneficiaries, the executor must decide the best time to do this in order to get the most out of the sale on your behalf. They are also responsible for all tax obligations, including inheritance, income, or capital gains tax.
Can anyone be an executor?
Yes, provided they are over 18 years of age. They can be a family member, a friend, or a third party such as your solicitor or accountant. You can even choose one or more of your beneficiaries to act as an executor. Consider adding more than one executor, or a substitute, should your first choice not be able to carry out your wishes – for example they may pass on before you do or be incapacitated. Consider someone younger than you, rather than older, as the chances of them outliving you are greater and therefore they will be able to fulfil such a role.
What a good executor looks like
The key characteristic of a good executor is trust. You should choose someone who you know and can depend on, someone who will follow your wishes no matter how complex or unpopular they may be. You could appoint different executors to do different roles; for example, a solicitor can manage all the paperwork while a loved one can handle any difficult family conversations that may be necessary.
Whoever you choose, make sure that they know what you are asking of them and that they accept that responsibility. It is also important that their contact details are always up to date so that they can be found otherwise they may not be able to do their job.
For advice on choosing the right executor or for guidance on estate planning and probate administration our team at IWC Probate Services is here to help. You can either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 020 8017 1029 for a discussion or to make an appointment.