If you have a Will in place, it is important to review this on a regular basis to ensure it is up to date with your personal and financial circumstances.
People often think of reviewing matters such as the amount of money to be left to nieces or nephews or who should, in fact, inherit the family heirlooms. However, most don't think to review who they have appointed as their Executor in their Will. So why is this important?
What is an Executor?
An Executor is an individual who you appoint in your Will who is responsible for administering your estate when you die and ensuring that the terms of your Will are implemented. For this reason, it is important to choose someone you trust and, usually, a spouse, close family member or friend is a suitable choice. Executors have certain duties to uphold and are required to act fairly and impartially.
There are a range of options when it comes to appointing Executors. Typically, spouses or civil partners will appoint the survivor of them as their Executor. Thereafter, they usually choose to appoint a substitute Executor in the event that their spouse becomes unable to act as Executor through reason of death or incapacity. Similarly, they may also choose an additional person to act as joint Executor, ensuring that the spouse has someone to assist them with matters. There is no set rule as to the number of Executors you require to appoint. However, where there is to be only one person appointed to act as your Executor, it is sensible to have a substitute included to ensure that there is someone who can attend to administering your estate.
Unsurprisingly, family members are usually appointed. However, you can appoint close friends, your solicitor or accountant (as a professional appointment) or even a trust company (such as TC Young Trustees Limited). Occasionally, and especially in the case of older Wills which have not been looked at for a long period of time, we see banks or building societies appointed.
Whoever you decide to appoint will need to be willing to take on the duties and responsibilities that come with the role of Executor, though they can always ask a solicitor for help.
Changing your Executors
If you wish to change your Executor to ensure that it is someone you trust to implement the terms of your Will, it is possible to do so without changing your entire Will. This can be done by using what is called a 'Codicil'. A Codicil is typically used to make small changes to existing Wills. The process is simple and can be done relatively quickly. Once signed, your Codicil is then placed alongside your Will to essentially be read together as one document.
With that in mind, it is important to note that if your Will has not been reviewed in many years, it may be that a fresh Will is recommended due to the number of changes required. We would consider what assets you have, the people in your life and your family make up and then advise you on your Will based on these factors, together with any Inheritance Tax planning that may be required. It may well be that your current Will is absolutely fine. However, you may find that there is a change to be made which you hadn't considered.
Should you wish to discuss if the terms of your current Will are still suitable for your circumstances or, if you wish to put a Will in place, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Private Client team who would be pleased to assist.