How to choose the executors of your estate

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 esta

Cancelling your will is known as revoking your will. You can do this at any time by simply destroying your will, either by tearing it up, shredding it or burning it. If you do this, you should be careful to ensure that no previous executed (signed and witnessed) wills are still in existence.

Alternatively, making a new will cancels any previous will – the first clause of a well drafted document is usually a revocation of all former wills. If you make a will online using our website, you can rest assured that your new will is valid.

If you do cancel your last will and testament, you could consider informing anyone who will be affected by your decision, for example beneficiaries, guardians and executors.