When it comes to Wills, most people are focused purely on how the estate will be distributed. Questions such as “have I given enough to my grandchildren?” and “will my spouse be adequately provided for?” are, obviously, very important matters to consider. However, the appointment of an Executor is just as important.
Who should I appoint?
Your Executor is responsible for dealing with the administration of your estate and ensuring that the terms of your Will are carried out, often with the assistance of a solicitor. For this reason, it is important to choose someone you trust and for many a spouse, close family member or friend is a suitable choice. However, this may not always be the case depending on family dynamics or if an individual has no family or friends who are able or willing to act. In those circumstances, the individual may wish to appoint a professional Executor, such as a solicitor. Executors have certain duties to uphold and are required to act fairly and impartially.
How many Executors should I appoint?
We would normally recommend appointing more than one Executor or appointing one Executor and a substitute, who would act in the event of your original Executor being unable to carry out their duties.
What if my Executors don’t understand what to do?
Depending on the nature and value of your estate when you die, Confirmation may need to be obtained from the Court. This is similar to Probate in England. In order to obtain Confirmation, there are certain steps which require to be followed, including completion of certain forms for submission to the Court (and sometimes, to HMRC). If your Executors are in doubt regarding how to best administer your estate and carry out their duties, they can seek legal advice to assist them through the process. In this instance, the solicitor would assist by making enquiries as to the nature and extent of the estate, calculating any inheritance tax due and corresponding with HMRC in this regard, drafting the application for Confirmation, ingathering the deceased’s assets and settling debts, and distributing the assets in accordance with the terms of the Will.
What if my circumstances change?
Your Will is not a document which we would recommend is prepared and left to sit for decades, remaining unchanged. Your Will should always reflect your circumstances. So, if you have children, there is a family fallout etc., your Will should be amended to take account of that. Similarly, you should review your appointed Executors from time to time, to ensure that they are still the most appropriate individuals to fulfil the role. We would recommend reviewing your Will every so often to ensure that it is reflective of your wishes.
Should you wish to discuss the appointment of an Executor in your Will or any other matter relating to your Will, please do not hesitate to contact our Private Client team who would be happy to assist you.