An Executor is someone you appoint under the terms of your Will to be responsible for administering your estate in accordance with the terms of your Will and for ensuring any outstanding liabilities are settled from estate monies, to include any funeral expenses.
An Executor has various important responsibilities and it can be quite a complex role for them to assume.
It is important to think carefully about whom you would like to appoint as your Executor.
Who can I appoint as an Executor?
You can appoint anyone to act as your Executor, provided they are over the age of 18. Your Executor should be someone who knows you well and whom you trust will be able to carry out the role.
Your spouse or civil partner, family members, your partner, a friend or a solicitor can act as your Executor and your Executor can be a beneficiary of your estate under the terms of your Will.
Your Executor will need to sign various paperwork relating to the estate so think about the practicalities of this (if your Executor lives or works abroad, this may pose a difficulty during the estate administration process).
How many Executors can I appoint?
You can appoint up to four Executors to act at a time. They must act jointly and every decision they make must be unanimous. For this reason, it may not be practical to appoint as many as four people.
It is a good idea to appoint more than one Executor in case one of them dies before you or cannot or does not want to act.
At least two Executors should be appointed if there might be a Trust to administer (for example, funds held in Trust on behalf of a minor child until he attains the age of 18 years).
You can appoint a substitute Executor to act only in the event your first appointed Executor cannot act.
If you do not appoint an Executor, the Intestacy Rules will determine which family members are entitled to apply for authority to administer your estate. You will not have control over who obtains authority and this may be someone whom you would otherwise not like to administer your estate.
Who should I appoint as my Executor and/or my substitute Executor?
You should appoint someone who knows you well and whom you trust will be able to assume the role of Executor.
If you are a couple, you may want to appoint each other. This is a fairly common scenario.
If your estate is modest and straightforward, it may be appropriate to appoint each other as your Executor. However, it is important to look at all of your personal circumstances to determine whether you should consider appointing any other person or professional as a co-Executor or substitute Executor. For example, the surviving partner may struggle with coming to terms with your death and the day-to-day challenges of losing a loved one. Additional support in the shape of a co-Executor may assist with relieving the burden of administrating the estate during this difficult time.
If your estate is large and complex, your partner may be unable to cope with the additional responsibility of dealing with the estate administration, inheritance tax liabilities, deadlines, financial paperwork and the Grant of Probate application. Appointing a co-Executor may offer additional support and assistance with progressing matters of a time-sensitive nature.
There is also a risk the surviving partner may not have capacity to act at the date of your death. If, for example, the surviving partner has dementia and does not have capacity to act when you die, and there are no co-Executors or substitute Executors appointed in your Will, it may be necessary for a member of the survivor’s family to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a Deputy and so they can assume the Executorship role on the survivor’s behalf. This can be a costly and time consuming process that, at a time of loss and grieving, can place a very heavy burden on your family.
This can all be avoided if you plan sufficiently and appoint a co-Executor or substitute Executor.
What can we do for you?
At Short Richardson & Forth, we have a wealth of experience in administering estates, large and small, and are often appointed by our clients to act as their Executor. We give our clients piece of mind that when they die, we will be here to ensure their wishes are carried out in accordance with their Will, and that their loved ones are supported and guided through what can be a very difficult time.
As well as acting as Executors, we also act for Executors. We strive to relieve the burden placed on your loved ones, as Executors, by taking care of the stressful and onerous tasks that must be completed; and by offering them our care, attention and assistance in the hope this provides them with comfort in the knowledge that your estate is in safe hands.
If you would like to discuss making a Will; or if you are an Executor and would like assistance with administrating an Estate, please do not hesitate to contact Lisa Berg, Head of Private Client Department at email@example.com or Amy-Louise Ions at firstname.lastname@example.org.