There are many things to think about when sitting down to decide your Will instructions, including who you would like to leave items to such as jewellery or family heirlooms, if you would like to leave any gifts to grandchildren or friends, whether to leave money outright for your chosen beneficiaries or perhaps within a trust to protect it, or set an age for children to inherit.
One of the most important decisions for your Will is who to appoint as your Executors.
What does an Executor do?
An Executor is the person you appoint in your Will to act in the administration of your estate. Their duties will include collecting in your assets, settling any liabilities, obtaining a grant of probate, paying any taxes due and distributing your estate under the terms of your Will. This is therefore an extremely important role as nothing will happen on your death without your Executor(s) stepping up. An Executor can only be appointed under your Will.
Who should I choose to be my Executor(s) and how many do I need?
Family members or friends are common choices as you should be able to trust them and hope that they act honestly and responsibly when it comes to dealing with your estate. They should also be able to distribute your assets under the terms of the Will as they are likely to have good knowledge of you, your family and your circumstances.
Although technically it is possible to appoint more, the maximum number of Executors who can apply for a grant of probate is four. The more Executors that you appoint the more chance of dispute as to the best ways to administer your estate which can incur more expense. We would normally therefore advise you to appoint two people who are over 18 (as probate cannot be granted to someone under the age of 18) that you trust and that you know can work together. Even though this is a personal appointment you should bear in mind that your Executors are able to appoint professionals to assist them in the administration of your estate. A beneficiary under your Will can act as an Executor should you wish them to do so. Alternatively, frequent appointments include an independent family friend, a business colleague, a professional adviser or a trust corporation.
When considering who to appoint, think about whether your family members or friends are likely to get on, or perhaps would they benefit from having a third party professional appointed with them to avoid the risk of disagreements. We would always advice that you chat with your intended Executors first to make sure they are happy to take on the role, and that they know how to get help when the time comes if they need.
Can I change my Executors?
As long as you have the capacity to make changes to your Will, you can do this at any time either by updating your existing Will or preparing a Codicil. These can be used to change your Executors should your circumstances change and it is a good idea to keep the appointment of Executors under review as life goes on.
If you would like to discuss the appointment of Executors further or would just like to have a chat about your Will, contact our Private Client team on 01548 857000 or on email@example.com