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Choosing the right executor

Choosing the right executor

Choosing an effective executor of your will is an essential part of estate planning. You may have clearly laid out your wishes in your will but if there's no-one to carry them out after you die the consequences can be dire.

Picking the right person requires careful deliberation (though fortunately for you, this process is usually a lot simpler than the one faced by your chosen executor). Here are some key questions you should ask when choosing who you want to manage your estate.

What is an executor?

Your executor is the person you nominate to fulfil the wishes you lay out in your will and sort out your estate after you die. They are responsible for organising the assets in your estate, paying debts, taxes and funeral costs, transferring assets to your chosen beneficiaries and ensuring all the relevant paperwork is dealt with properly.

Who can be my executor?

You can choose anyone over 18 to be your executor. There's nothing to stop you naming one of your will's beneficiaries as an executor – many people choose to name their children, friends, spouse or civil partner as executors.

There are some restrictions however. You cannot ask anyone with a criminal conviction or a bankrupt individual to execute your estate.

It's possible to choose more than one executor and this is usually recommended in case your first executor dies before you. If your first executor lacks specialist tax or legal knowledge, it is advised that you choose a professional to act as a second executor. This could be a solicitor, a bank or an accountant. You're able to appoint as many as 4 executors, though sharing duties between this many people could potentially slow down the process.

Our accountants are able to act as executors. Speak to an adviser for more information.

What should I look for in an executor?

Choosing the right executor is a big decision. It involves a lot of responsibility, work and careful planning. The ideal executor is someone who:

·         you can trust

·         has understanding of the tax, legal and property issues that come with the job

·         can negotiate any disagreements between parties.

Finding the balance between these traits depends on your family relationships and your estate. For example, if you have a large and complicated estate, you may not wish to name an inexperienced family member as your executor.

Also bear in mind the effect of your death on close family members. Think carefully about whether they will be able to effectively carry out your wishes while coping with loss.

What if I don't know anyone who can be an executor?

You may be able to turn to a government official called the Public Trustee if:

·         you are unable to find a suitable or willing person to execute your estate

·         you write a vulnerable beneficiary into your will.

However, the Public Trustee will not be able to act as your executor if handling your estate involves managing a business or if you're insolvent.

To appoint the Public Trustee, name them as executor in your will and them send a copy of the will and a letter of explanation. They'll make a decision on whether to accept the appointment after you die.

Talk to us

Our accountants can help you plan every aspect of your estate. From helping you to write your will to advice on setting up trusts and reducing your inheritance tax liabilities, we leave no stone unturned when it comes to estate planning.

Contact us on 01628 631 056 or email geoffk@knightandcompany.co.uk to learn more about our estate planning service.