Writing a will can be an unpleasant subject to think about or discuss, but doing so is absolutely vital, particularly if you have children or dependents in your life. There’s a lot to consider when writing your will, and choosing the right executor of the will can be one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
In this guide, we’ll cover what exactly is involved in choosing the right executor of the will, and why making the right choice is so important. This way, you’ll have the knowledge and understanding to ensure a smooth administration. Read on to find out more.
What is a Will?
First, let’s clarify exactly what a will is and what its purpose is.
To put it simply, a will is a legally binding document that is used to detail what you wish to happen with your estate after you pass away. Your estate encompasses things like your finances, possessions, property, and any investments you might have.
Wills are commonly used to establish how an estate is to be distributed among loved ones such as children or other family members. They can also be used to detail how a business should be handled after the owner has passed away, or if you want to leave a portion of your estate to a charity or another organisation.
A will can prove to be a contentious topic and can be the cause of serious familial conflicts. This is why it’s so important to write your will in plenty of time, in the correct way, and to choose the right executor of the will.
What is an Executor?
After you pass away, you will obviously be unable to oversee the process of distributing your estate according to the wishes detailed in your will. This is where the executor comes in; this is a person named in your will who has the responsibility of ensuring your wishes are met.
There are no specific laws or rules about who you choose as an executor. It can be a family member or a friend, they don’t necessarily have to be related to you. The executor of your will can be someone to who you are leaving part of your estate, or it can be someone who is not going to benefit from your will, such as a lawyer.
Choosing the Right Executor of the Will
Choosing the right executor of the will is crucial. It’s a big responsibility, so you have to be confident that the person you choose is capable of handling everything that comes with it.
Many people choose to appoint more than one executor. This can be a particularly effective approach; it will ensure that there will be someone to take care of your will in case something happens to your initial executor. Up to four executors can be named in your will.
If you don’t have any suitable friends or family members to name as an executor of your will, you can appoint a legal professional such as a solicitor. This can often be a better option, as they will have the knowledge and experience required to ensure your estate is distributed according to your wishes, and they will be able to navigate the often-complicated legal territory that comes with the process.
What Does an Executor Do?
An executor is responsible for all of the deceased’s assets, until such a time that they have all been passed on to the beneficiaries named in the will. This is known as the administration period, and choosing the right executor of the will ensures that the administration period goes smoothly and without issue.
During this period, the executor will be responsible for paying any debts left by the deceased, paying any tax due on the estate, reporting the value of the estate to HMRC, and selling assets such as property or share investments.
The executor of a will also has to oversee the payment of inheritance tax. This can be a complicated process, so check out our guide to inheritance tax to ensure to learn more about the laws.
The final responsibility of an executor is to distribute the estate according to the instructions detailed in the will. After the estate has been distributed, final accounts must be prepared, written up, and signed by both the executor(s) and the beneficiaries.
Choosing the right executor of the will is essential. Doing so will ensure your wishes are met and your estate is distributed among named beneficiaries accordingly and can help prevent family disputes and conflicts.