Choosing executors

Your executors are the people who will manage your estate after your death. This is an important responsibility and you should let your executors know if you want them to perform the task. Choosing the right executors can also reflect financially and make your estate more tax efficient. But choosing the right executors can also mean that the process is less stressful for all concerned.

You can appoint a single executor but it is generally recommended to appoint at least two. If you appoint more than two or three executors in your will, there is more potential for hold-ups and complications during the coordination process.

The main duties of an executor

* Getting your assets together and valuing them
* Applying for a grant of probate
* Ensuring that all expenses, debts and tax are paid from your estate
* Distributing the remainder (residue) of your estate as described in your will

What makes a good executor?

Honesty and integrity are important attributes for an executor – they need to be able to make decisions that will benefit all involved, instead of just themselves. As they will be working in a team, it is also important that you pick people who can work together. Bear in mind that there will be a large amount of legal paperwork and formalities to go through so your executor should have the right skills to deal with the responsibilities.

For practical reasons, it is also important to choose someone who is likely to outlive you.

If you are considering naming someone “neutral” such as a friend or neighbour as an executor, be aware that you are effectively asking them to give up a great deal of time, unpaid, to deal with legal issues that are really best managed by professionals. The decisions made by your executors could make a significant difference to the inheritance that makes its way to your beneficiaries.

Responsibilities can include, for example, keeping a house insured and ensuring the pipes don’t freeze before it can be sold. The executor will also be responsible for getting the best possible value.

Appointing a professional executor

You may want to consider appointing a professional executor. Banks often offer this service, as do solicitors. Their charges are limited by law and are often calculated as a percentage of the estate. A good executor may well save you more money than you pay in fees, as well as providing a steadying and positive influence at a stressful time for your loved ones.