Choosing your Executor will be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make – but what exactly do you need to consider and how do you choose the right person?
An Executor is the person appointed in a person’s Will to administer their estate and carry out their directions as set out in their Will. It’s an important role but can be a time consuming task.
You should choose someone you trust who’d be willing to take on the responsibility.
You must also keep in mind that your Executor could be help personally responsible if something goes wrong with the administration of your estate. So you should choose someone who has the necessary skills. The chosen Executor should be aware of the legal responsibilities and have some understanding of financial and business matters even though they’re likely to require legal or other professional representation to manage the estate administration.
Many people choose a family member or friend, but you should consider the extra burden you’re placing on them at a time when they’re grieving their loss. Consider whether the person you have chosen is likely to cope with this task.
It’s also common for people to choose their eldest child as the Executor, mostly out of a sense of tradition. Unfortunately the eldest child may not be the most appropriate person for the role.
Where possible appoint an independent Executor – someone who doesn’t have an interest in the assets and estate that will be distributed. This can help to avoid conflict between the Executor and beneficiaries and accusations of favouritism.
Many people these days are instead choosing ‘professional’ Executors such as trustee companies, solicitors or accountants to avoid the issues described above.
Regardless of who you choose, make sure you ask the person first if they’re willing to act as your Executor and they understand what’s required of them. You can read our recent post on What does an Executor do? for more information.
You should speak to a qualified Wills and Estate professional who can provide advice on being an Executor and administering an estate.