One of the most important decisions to make when making a will is who to appoint as your executor – they will make sure that your wishes are carried out.
What is an executor?
Your executor is the person who will deal with the assets and liabilities that you leave behind on your death. It is their job to ensure that the terms of your will are met, where possible.
They must always act impartially and in line with the terms of your will – because of this, you should think carefully about who you choose.
Who can be an executor of my will?
Anyone over the age of 18 can act as an executor. However, because of the role which your executor must carry out – handling money and assets and making carefully-considered decisions, it is not appropriate to choose people who have been made bankrupt or who lack mental capacity to act in this role.
Your executors can be one and the same as your beneficiaries. We advise that a maximum of four executors are appointed for practical reasons.
Can I appoint a professional executor?
Yes, professional executors are very often appointed in wills, often for very good reasons.
As professional executors ourselves, we understand the duties and responsibilities of our role. At a time when family members will be grieving, we can help to deal with a deceased person’s affairs professionally and compassionately, taking this stress off the family.
As soon as sums of money are involved, there are often disputes between siblings and if one or more of them has been appointed as an executor, their role can be, and is often, abused. This can cause emotional stress, delay and further cost to the estate.
Where a professional is appointed as executor, it will provide peace of mind for the beneficiaries who can be assured that the estate will be dealt with in accordance with the terms of the will as quickly and efficiently as possible.
How can I change my will to appoint professional executors?
Advice should be sought from a specialist member of our Wills, Trusts and Estates Team who will be able to guide you through the process of drafting a new will or amending your existing will by drafting a codicil.
What if an appointed executor is not doing what they should?
An application can be made to remove an executor and advice should be sought from a specialist member of our Disputed Wills, Trusts and Estates Team.
Is an executor personally liable for any debts that I leave behind?
No – your executors are not personally liable for your debts. If your debts exceed the value of your assets on death your estate is treated as being insolvent.
What is my next step?
If you are thinking of making a will or wish to make changes to an existing will, please contact David King, partner in our Wills, Trusts and Estates Planning Team on 01989 550568 or [email protected]
If you are experiencing issues with an executor not fulfilling their duties, contact Beth King-Smith, our Head of Disputed Wills, Trusts and Estates, on 01905 744842 or [email protected]