Do you have a will?
If so, it is more than likely that your will deals with the appointment of executors. If you don’t have a will then there are rules which dictate who is entitled to apply for a grant of administration – this increases the number of issues to be resolved. Therefore, it is always advisable to have a will which appoints the people you want to handle your estate following your death.
What does an executor do?
Put simply, an executor will step into your shoes and will act on your behalf. This will include:
- securing the estate;
- collecting in any bank accounts;
- paying any liabilities;
- selling property; or
- even continuing to run a business until it can be either sold or distributed according to the will.
Whoever is appointed as an executor under a will is not just an executor, they can also be a trustee of the will. Trustees are responsible for any trusts under the will. For example, children under 18 (or over if the will specifies this) cannot be handed money – the money will be left to them via a trust which the trustees will be responsible for maintaining and distributing the assets from.
How many executors do I need to appoint?
The maximum number you can have is four executors, usually people will appoint either one or two depending on the size of their estate. If there is a trust then there will need to be at least two executors to deal with this. You can also appoint substitute executors in case any previous ones either renounce (i.e. give up the power) or they have pre-deceased you. It is usually worth appointing at least one back up for such instances as this does help in future-proofing the will to avoid having to make changes at a later date.
If there is more than one executor named under the will, then they can either choose to act together or one can act alone (subject to any trusts) with the power of the other “reserved” should they wish to use it at a later date.
Can anyone be an executor?
Yes, if they are over 18 and of sound mind. Usually people will appoint their close family or friends who they trust and who they think will be capable to dealing with the issues.
If you have property based abroad, a number of different trusts or business or agricultural interests, you may wish to instruct a professional to be the executor, for example the partners of a law firm. It may be that the person(s) you appoint to be your executor, may require the advice and assistance of a professional to deal with the estate and the professional can work with the executor to ensure that the administration of your estate runs smoothly.
If you would like to discuss making a will or wish to discuss a probate matter, please give our specialist Wills and Probate solicitors on 0800 988 7756.