Roles And Responsibilities Of An Executor
Posted on 26th September 2022 at 15:03
Choosing who to name as executor in your Will is an important decision. The executor is responsible for making sure your estate is administered properly after your death, and the role can be a complex and time-consuming one.
Here we’ve provided some information on an executor’s responsibilities and what to consider when naming them in your Will.
What does an Executor do?
An executor’s role is to administer your estate after your death. To do this, they must:
Value your estate and report this to HMRC
Apply for the grant of probate (the document that allows them to administer the estate)
Collect in the value of any assets – for example, selling your house so your beneficiaries can receive their share of the inheritance
Pay any outstanding debts & liabilities
Distribute the estate among the beneficiaries
At all times they must act in the best interests of the estate. For example, they’re not allowed to sell property under market value or put it in their own name.
The executor is responsible for making sure all the relevant taxes are paid and all the necessary paperwork is filed with HMRC. If they don’t do this correctly, or if they do mismanage funds from the estate, they may be personally liable for any financial shortfalls.
Who should I choose as my Executor?
Deciding who you want as your executor is a very personal choice. Some people opt for family members or friends, while others prefer a professional, such as a solicitor.
Whatever you decide, it’s important to choose:
Someone you trust
Someone you know will be able to handle the legal and practical responsibilities of the role
If you want to name more than one executor, make sure you choose people whom you can trust to work together.
Executors must be over 18 and have mental capacity. They are allowed to be a beneficiary of your Will as well as being the executor.
Can I Have More Than One Executor?
Yes, you can select up to four executors. If you do choose more than one, they’ll need to be able to work together – this is something consider when naming them in your Will.
What are the benefits of appointing a Solicitor as my Executor?
Many people prefer to use a professional executor, such as a solicitor. The benefits of using a solicitor as your executor include:
Professional knowledge and expertise in estate administration
Takes stress away from your loved ones at a difficult time
They take on liability for your estate being administered correctly
Having an independent executor can save potential conflict between your loved ones, especially if there is already any strain or disagreement around inheritance issues.
A professional executor has no emotional ties to the situation and their only priority is to carry out your wishes accurately and efficiently. You can have peace of mind knowing the best interests of your estate and all your beneficiaries will be protected.
It also gives your loved ones the space to grieve for their loss, without having to worry about the financial and legal responsibilities of handling your estate.
This isn’t always required but it’s considering.
How to make things easier for my Executor
When writing your Will, there are a few things you can do to make sure everything are as straightforward as possible:
Have a professionally written Will – this will help ensure the Will is valid, your wishes are clear, and any potential uncertainty have already been dealt with
Keep your instructions clear and concise – complicated and lengthy wills will generally take longer to administer than something simple and straightforward
Include a contingency plan – what if your executor dies or can’t take up their duties after your death? It’s good to think about ‘back-up’ options.
It’s also helpful to make sure your executor knows where to find all your important personal information, such as:
Your national insurance number and tax office
Contact details for your banks, lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors
Important documents such as the title deeds to your house
Account details for online banking, email, social media, and other digital services
Passwords for computers, smartphones, and other devices.
This will avoid unnecessary delays to the probate process and make everything much less stressful for them.
Can I change my Executor?
Yes. You can change your executor at any time by rewriting your Will.
If your executor wants to step down from their role once the Will has come into effect, it can be more complicated. They can either ‘renounce’ their position or get ‘power reserved’ (read more below).
What if my Executor doesn’t want to fulfil their duties?
If your executor doesn’t want to carry out their duties after your death, they can ‘renounce’ their position. They can only do this if they haven’t started dealing with the estate. If they’ve already started the administration of the estate, they are said to be ‘intermeddling’ and they cannot step down from their position.
Another option is that they could get ‘power reserved’ – this means they take a back seat in the day-to-day administration but still have authority as an executor.
Power reserved often happens if an executor lives abroad or is too ill or busy to carry out their duties. Obviously, it’s only possible if there are other executors named in the Will who are able and willing to take up the bulk of the tasks instead – therefore it’s good to name more than one executor and have contingency plans written into your Will.
This is another reason why appointing an independent professional as your executor can take the pressure off – you’ll have peace of mind knowing that they won’t step down from their role or deputise to someone else.
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