Choosing your executor

Money Advice Service

The person who sorts out your property when you die and carries out the instructions in your will is called your executor. You can choose whoever you like to do this job (and it can be more than one person) – but it’s an important choice to get right.

What does an executor do?

Your executor takes on the job of carrying out the instructions you leave in your will when you die.

It can be a complicated job even if your instructions and your property are quite simple – it’s not unusual for the process to take several months.

The job of an executor is sometimes difficult. For example they might have to:

  • Decide when to sell your property so that the people who inherit the proceeds get the most money
  • Make sure the right amount of Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax or Income Tax gets paid

Who can be an executor of a will?

Anyone aged 18 or above can be an executor of your will. There’s no rule against people named in your will as beneficiaries being your executors.

In fact this is very common.

Many people choose their spouse or civil partner or their children to be an executor. But that doesn’t mean they have to write them out of the will.

Up to four executors can act at a time, but they all have to act jointly so it might not be practical to appoint that many people.

It’s a good idea, though, to choose two executors in case one of them dies before you do.

For example, you might choose one family member and one professional, like a solicitor or accountant.

Professional executors tend to charge, but it can be helpful to have someone involved with specialist knowledge.

You can appoint substitute executors to cover the situation if your first choice dies before you.

What makes a good executor?

Watch out!

If you leave something to a person in your will, they can still be your executor – but they can’t be one of your will’s official witnesses.

Above all you must choose somebody you trust.

It’s going to be up to them to follow the instructions in your will and to find fair solutions to any disagreements.

If your executor’s good at paperwork and managing legal issues it will be helpful.

And if you choose more than one executor, they might decide to divide up the work.

For example, if you appoint one of your children and a solicitor as your executors, they might decide that your child might be the best person to deal sensitively with other family members, while the solicitor handles the tax and legal work.

Family members as executors

If there’s someone in your family who you think will handle the job well, it can be a good idea to have them as an executor.

For example, it’s very common to name one of your children, a niece or nephew or an adult grandchild.

Make sure you ask if they’re happy to do the job before you write your will, though – if they say no, you’ll have to get your will changed.

Think carefully before choosing your husband, wife or partner as your only executor.

They’ll be dealing with your death, and by naming somebody else to be an executor with your husband, wife or partner, you can at least take the burden of the paperwork off their shoulders.

Solicitors, banks and accountants as executors

Choosing a solicitor as one of your executors makes a lot of sense, especially if sorting out your things is likely to be complicated – they’re experienced at the job and know their way around legal, tax and property issues.

If the financial side of your will is especially complicated, it could be a good idea to choose a bank or accountant as one of your executors.

Of course, these professional specialists will charge you for their work. This happens in one of two ways:

  • By sending a bill for their time when your things have all been sorted out
  • By taking a share of the total value of your estate – this will be written into your will

Make sure you understand how your solicitor, bank or accountant will charge for being an executor and how much each option will cost before you commit yourself.

If you don’t have anyone who can be an executor

As a last resort, there’s a government official called the Public Trustee who will be your executor if there’s really nobody else who can do it.

The most common situation where the Public Trustee will step in is if your will leaves everything to one person and that person can’t act as executor himself or herself – for example, a child or an adult whose disability means they’re incapable of managing financial affairs.

Find out more about the Public Trustee on the GOV.UK website.

When you’ve chosen your executor

Make sure you confirm your executor’s full name and address in your will – otherwise they might not be able to do their job, if they cannot be found.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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Some important information about Rest Less Money

We want you to understand the positives, but also the limitations of using our site. We operate in a journalistic manner and therefore all information, guidance or suggestions provided are intended to be general in nature, and you should not rely on any of the information on the site in connection with the making of any financial decision.

When we set out to build Rest Less Money, we wanted to be a trusted place where you could find helpful information about financial matters affecting the over 50s. As a free to use resource, we try hard to provide the best information we can, but we cannot guarantee that we won’t occasionally make mistakes. So please note that you use the information on our site at your own risk, and we can’t accept liability if things go wrong.

Key things to remember when using Rest Less Money:

We do not offer financial advice – As a journalistic site, it’s important to know that we do not provide financial advice. You should always do your own research before choosing any financial product so that you can be certain it is right for you and your specific circumstances. If you are in any doubt, please seek professional financial advice from a regulated financial advisor.

No Liability – please note that you use the information on Rest Less Money at your own risk and we can’t accept liability for how you choose to use the information given on our site. We will often provide links to content or products and services available on other third-party websites. These are provided purely for your convenience and we cannot be held responsible for any content, or any of the products and services offered on any website that we link to.

 

Accuracy of Information – We try to make sure that all the information provided on Rest Less Money is correct at the time of publishing as we want it to be the most helpful resource possible. Sadly, we are not perfect however, and so we can make no guarantees as to the completeness, accuracy, adequacy or suitability of the information available on the site.
Whilst we work hard to try and provide accurate information, deals and prices can change, so whilst they may be correct at the time of writing, providers may subsequently decide to alter them later – so always double check first.

A final note on the Rest Less Community Forums – always remember that anyone can post their opinion on the Rest Less Community Forums, so it can be very different from our own opinion and may not be factual or well researched. Always be wary of any content posted on the forums and be sure to do your own research and due diligence on anything suggested. 

We hope you find Rest Less Money a useful resource and we would welcome your feedback at [email protected] on how to make it even better. For more information on any of the above you can read our full terms and conditions.

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