How to Choose an Executor for Your Will
Are you struggling with the question of how to choose an Executor for your Will? The role of an Executor is a very important one. You need to make sure that you are making a wise decision. Your Executor will be trusted to take care of the administration of your estate after you die.It is a very important role. You really want to make the right decision when you choose an Executor for your Will.
Here are some questions that you should ask yourself when you are considering who to appoint as your Executor when you write your own Will.
What Does An Executor Actually Do?
It is important to understand what an Executor will actually have to do. This will help you to see if the people you have in mind for the job will be able to take on these tasks. Put simply, the role of an Executor is to carry out the wishes of the deceased person and administer their estate. However, what exactly does this entail? It is very important to know what someone will have to do before you choose an Executor for your Will. Is your choice up to the task? Will they have time to carry out all the duties of an Executor?
The duties of an Executor include:
Locating the Will and applying for probate.
This is a very important step as it is only after the probating of the Will that it becomes your official Last Will and Testament. This can sound like a daunting responsibility, but in most cases it is pretty straightforward. Not all cases will need an application for probate. However, it is important that an Executor understands whether or not this is necessary in the estate they are dealing with.
Identify the beneficiaries in the Will.
This can sometimes be a very easy task. You can make it simpler by being very clear in your Will who the beneficiaries are.
An Executor will need to inform financial institutions and government departments that the deceased has died. This can include banks, utility companies, credit card and other loan companies. Each institution may have their own procedure so this can be time consuming.
Identify all of the assets of the estate.
Assets are all of the possessions, bank accounts, investments, property and also nowadays can include digital assets in the form of online accounts.
Ensure that all of the debts of the estate are paid off.
However, an Executor is not personally liable for the debts of the estate. This task will also involve filing the necessary tax forms and ensuring that the estate pays any debts.
An Executor should take care of any property or assets of the estate until it can be sold or distributed to the beneficiaries. This may mean that personal items have to be securely stored, or that an empty house has to be cared for. An Executor has to do whatever is necessary to safeguard all the assets of the estate. This may include changing locks on front doors.
Distribute the estate
Arrange for all funeral and incidental expenses to be paid from the estate.
The final task is to ensure that any assets which remain in the estate go to the beneficiaries in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.
As you can see, the Executor has many duties to carry out. You do need to think about this when you choose an Executor for your Will. Is the person that you choose to be an Executor for your Will going to be up to the job? They must of course be trustworthy, but they also need to be very strong with paperwork and filing out government forms.
Should You Choose a Relative as Executor for your Will?
Most people choose a relative when they appoint an Executor. In many ways it seems like an obvious choice. However, you really do need to give some very serious thought to whether this is the right thing to do. First of all think about the duties of an Executor. Is your Uncle Bob really going to be up to the task?
A spouse is an obvious choice for an Executor. It is likely that they know your estate very well and so the administration tasks should be relatively straight forward. If they are the sole or a major beneficiary they will be highly motivated to carry out their role as Executor quickly and efficiently. However, you do also have to consider that your spouse will be going through the early stages of grief. To add the burden of being an Executor may not be the best idea. Do you think that your spouse will be able to deal with being an Executor? One idea is that you appoint your spouse and another person. This additional Executor could assist your spouse at this difficult time.
Age can be a factor when you choose an Executor
Also bear in mind that your Will is not coming into effect today. Your Executor may not start work for another 20 years, so think about the age of your appointed Executor. They may be a great choice in their sixties, but maybe not so much when they are approaching ninety.
Whoever you decide to appoint as your Executor you really must ask their permission first.This is because it is an important task. Most of all you want someone that will take it seriously and act correctly.
Some people may not want to burden of being appointed as an Executor. The role of Executor is time consuming and carries a great deal of responsibility. Consequently, some people may not want to be an Executor. It is important that whoever you want to be your Executor is happy to take on the task. Being an Executor can sometimes be a difficult task. Therefore, it is not something that you can just expect someone to want to do. Always ask their permission and understand if they say no.
Bear in mind that your Executor can always employ professionals to help them, and this would be an expense that comes out of the funds in the estate.
Should I Appoint a Professional as an Executor?
If you cannot think of a suitable family member or friend to choose as an Executor for your Will you will have to appoint a professional. There are many people who offer professional services as Executors. These include banks, solicitors and trust companies. The services of a professional Executor can be expensive. Often they charge a percentage of the whole of the estate. Depending upon the size of the estate, the fees of a professional can seem very expensive. However, it may be that this is money well spent.
If you think that your estate will be too complicated to administer, you should always consider appointing a professional. If the estate is large and has a lot of diverse assets, the services of a professional may be essential.
The decision about who you choose as an Executor for your Will is a very important one. Choose wisely and always remember to ask permission of anyone who you have in mind to appoint. A good Executor will administer your estate in accordance with your wishes. This will make things so much easier for the ones who you leave behind.
Beware of Executor scams
One final note. Never allow your Will writer to coerce you into being the Executor of your Will. We have recently discovered online Will writing services that don’t even off the option of naming an Executor, but instead insert their own company as the Executor of your Will. They do this because serving as an Executor is significantly more lucrative than writing your Will. The professional Executor will likely charge up to 5 percent of your estate, plus an hourly rate. It will be very difficult for your beneficiaries to dispute this; so your £30 fee for writing your Will turns into a £20,000 fee for Executing the document. It’s a scam. This scam became a mainstream news item a couple of years ago.
Tim Hewson is one of the founders of LegalWills.co.uk.
He has over 20 years of experience helping people to write their Will and other estate planning documents. He has been interviewed by many of the major news media outlets and has contributed to articles in most leading publications. He has also contributed to a number of financial planning books.
Throughout his career, Tim has written extensively on the subject of Will writing and estate planning.
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