Why Choosing an Executor Is Often a Tough Task

If you have a complex estate and a number of dependents, you're advised to create a will as soon as possible. Within this document, you will outline how your estate is going to be distributed following your death and give some other instructions as and when needed. While there may be quite a lot of work involved in crafting this document in your situation, you should also give some attention to who will handle it. In other words, you need to choose the executor of your estate to take control of matters once you are gone, but what do you need to consider when it comes to this crucial role?

Legal Authority

Once you name your executor and include this information in your will, that person will have the legal authority to handle your estate following your death. This is a complex role in its own right and is not to be underestimated.

Executor Duties

The executor will need to apply for a grant of probate and will then have to perform a range of administrative duties. They'll be responsible for collecting any money that may be owed to you, gathering the deeds or titles of property, paying off any debts or inheritance tax to the government and preparing accounts for the estate. Once all the debits and credits have been accounted for, they will need to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. They may also be required to set up a trust if this is your wish and then act as a trustee going forward.

Never a Figurehead

An executor is not simply a figurehead. On the contrary, they will have to do a lot of work. Therefore, you will need to choose this person carefully and be confident that they will be able to perform when called upon to do so. If you're in a long-term relationship, you may want to choose your other half. If you look elsewhere, ensure that you pick someone who has a good track record when dealing with money and is generally reliable. Still, try to avoid someone who is much older than you as there is a risk that they may pass before you do.

Two Is Better Than One

It may be a good idea to appoint two executors. In this case, many people will choose their lawyer. Whichever path you take, ensure that you talk this through carefully with the potential appointee, and they will need to both agree and be very clear about what is expected.

Extra Advice

Start to draw up a short list of potential executors as you finalise your will. Talk with your lawyer for any further advice in the meantime.