Do you need an executor for a will?

One of the most important things that we can do in life is ensuring that our loved ones are looked after to the best of our abilities when we die. For most people, this involves the writing of a will – a document that stipulates what will happen to our estate when we pass away.

Legally speaking, the term ‘estate’ refers to everything that we own. So, estate planning can range from property and land, to money, to pets, art, and through to small items with a lot of sentimental value.

Writing a will is one of the most important things that you will do in your life and having an executor of your will is an important factor in this process.

What is an executor of a will?

The executor of a will is essentially the person who deals with your estate after you pass away. They are a person or people who are appointed by you to look at your will and ensure that everything that you have stipulated in it, happens.

You have a complete choice over who is the executor of your will, but it must be someone (or some people) that you believe to be capable of doing it and who you trust implicitly.

What does an executor of a will have to do?

The executor of a will has several duties to carry out when you pass away. Depending on the details of the will this can be a relatively simple task, or it can be a big, complicated job. Some of the duties of an executor of a will include:

  • Following the directions as set out by the deceased – including their wishes for burial or cremation
  • Collecting all of the deceased person’s assets
  • Applying for a grant of probate (a document that gives them legal authority to deal with the estate of the deceased)
  • Identifying those who have been named as beneficiaries in the will
  • Closing building society or bank accounts of the deceased’s estate
  • Taking responsibility for the deceased’s assets and ensuring that these are received by the intended beneficiaries
  • Dealing with the sale of any of the deceased’s property and ensuring that the best price is received for it
  • Making sure that the correct payment of Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, or Income Tax is paid
  • Ensuring that any outstanding debts have been paid

Who can be an executor?

Choosing the right executor for a will is an important decision. It is a role that can potentially take up a lot of time and also takes a lot of responsibility.

The most important things to consider when you are deciding on who to appoint as the executor of a will is that they are capable of doing it and that you completely trust them to carry out your wishes.

Most people will choose either a family member(s), a solicitor(s), or a combination of both, to be the executor of their will. By choosing more than one person to be the executor, you can allow each of them to use their strengths and skills in different areas to ensure that the job gets done as quickly, fairly, and accurately as possible.

The executor will take care of all of the detail surrounding the will, as well as resolve any disputes that may occur, so your person (or people) of choice must be able to do this.

Before you appoint someone as the executor to your will it is important that you discuss it with them first to ensure that they are happy with your decision and to take on this responsibility

Family member as an executor

Many people choose a family member to be the executor of their will as they know that it is a person that they will be able to trust completely. They also will not need to pay them but often a gift is left in the Will to recognise the amount of work that will be carried out.

Often adult children, nieces, nephews, or siblings are chosen as an executor. If you choose to appoint your spouse or civil partner as your executor, should the marriage end, they will no longer be named as your executor (unless you stipulate otherwise).

Solicitors as an executor

Some people decide to appoint a solicitor as the executor of their will. They will be a professional with experience of dealing with wills often on a daily basis and can ensure that the process happens quickly, efficiently, and fairly. They are also in a good place to resolve any disputes as they will be impartial.

A solicitor will normally be paid either a percentage of the value of the estate, or by the hour according to how long they spend on the job.

What if I can’t appoint an executor?

In some instances, people cannot appoint an executor of their will. In this case, a Public Trustee can be used to organise your affairs but only in limited circumstances. A Public Trustee is a government official who will take responsibility for your will should you have no alternative executor, but you should contact them at the time you make your Will to explain your circumstances.  When you have died, then they will decide if they can act.

It is always best to appoint someone of your choice as the executor in your Will rather than leave it to chance.

How do you appoint an executor?

After you have decided who to appoint as the executor of your will and have checked with them that they are happy to do this important role, you simply should supply their name and address to a Solicitor who can write this into your will.

Contact Waldrons Solicitors

Here at Waldrons, we have a team of experienced will solicitors who can help you. Contact us today to discuss your circumstances.

More information on Wills and Probate

Back to all Insights