When you are making your Will, there are many different aspects to think about and scenarios to consider. But, often the most important decision you must make, is who to appoint as your executor.

In this blog, our Wills and Estates team discuss the duties of an executor. Along with the legal options and some points to consider when selecting someone to take care of your wishes.

Duties of an Executor

An executor is someone who is named in the Will as the person responsible for dealing with your estate when you die, according to the law set down in the Administration of Estates Act. Their responsibilities can include:

  • Registering the death and organising the funeral
  • Deciding if they wish to employ a Solicitor to assist with the legal formalities
  • Locating all the financial information, for both assets and liabilities
  • Collating information for your Solicitor
  • Lodging the death certificate with all identified third parties to establish the date of death values or debts
  • Preparing the IHT forms, if required
  • Calculating the amount of inheritance tax (“IHT”) owed and arranging payment or a loan facility for IHT
  • Sending off documents to HMRC and the Probate Registry with your application for the Grant of Probate to prove the last Will and Testament
  • Upon receipt of the Grant of Probate, lodging it with all third parties
  • Collecting in the monies due to the estate and placing in Executors bank account or Solicitors client account
  • Settling any debts or liabilities of the estate
  • Settling any pecuniary legacies
  • Obtaining clearance from HMRC for income tax, capital gains tax and Inheritance Tax
  • Distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will

As you can see, there are some incredibly important duties involved. Therefore, appointing the right person is key. This will ensure that they put the duties of being an Executor ahead of their possible receipt of any inheritance, if they are also a beneficiary.

Who can be your Executor?

The law is very open about who this can be, as long as they are over the age of 18.

It is sensible to name more than one person, should the named person pass away before you or be unable to act due to illness or capacity issues. You can name your preferred executor with options should that person be unable to carry out their duties.

Many people will choose a spouse or a family member to manage their estate. But this can put them in a position of conflict. There is also the option of appointing a professional executor, which is becoming a more popular choice. Especially as family dynamics are becoming more blended. This would be your firm of Solicitors, where a qualified Solicitor would manage your estate from start to finish.

Remember, that who you decide to appoint is your personal choice and you should feel comfortable with your choice.

How to choose an Executor?

The person you choose must act in your best interests and carry out your wishes according to your Will and the law. There are likely to be people in your life who you love dearly and wish to provide for after you have gone, however, they may not be the right person to manage your affairs impartially.

When you look at the list of duties your executors are responsible for you must consider who in your life would be able to cope with these tasks.

Some qualities or things to think about when choosing who would make a good executor might include:

  • Someone who knows you well and would respect your wishes.
  • A trustworthy person.
  • Someone who is well-organised.
  • A friend or family member that is likely to be in good health.
  • Someone who is good with finances.
  • Someone who has the ability to cope with vast amounts of paperwork.

Choosing a Professional Executor

There are many reasons why appointing a professional executor might be the best option for you. You may not have family members nearby, you could have difficult family dynamics or simply, not wish to burden your loved ones with the stress of understanding the legal process on top of their grief.

Some key benefits to appointing a Solicitor to administer your estate include:

  1. They understand the legal process and are experts at dealing with probate.
  2. If you appoint a firm of Solicitors, you do not need to worry about surviving the people you have named or updating your Will.
  3. If you have a complex family structure or an estate that is not straightforward (i.e. you own a business, land, foreign assets etc.) then it is sensible to have someone with experience taking care of these matters.
  4. Your Solicitor will not have any emotional involvement and can remain impartial.
  5. If you do not have close family, friends or anyone that could step into this role then you have a sensible option.

Informing your Executor

Once you have chosen your executor and drafted your Will, it is important to let the person or people know that you have named them as executors. They should read up on their duties so that they understand what is required of them when the time comes.

Whilst it might not be the most comfortable of conversations to have, it would also be sensible to talk to the person about any specific wishes you have. For example, funeral or burial wishes, and let them know where they can find your Will and important documents.

Making a Will

If you are considering making a Will, or are looking for advice for a family member then please contact our friendly team today.

We would be happy to talk you through your options and make an appointment for you to make your Will with us.

Call our Wills and Estate department in Colchester on 01206 574431 or in Clacton on 01255 221919. Alternatively you can email us at info@tsplegal.com or complete our contact form on our website for someone to give you a call back.