What is an executor?

In your Will, you must name the people you wish to appoint as ‘executors’.  Executors are the people who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes and for sorting out your estate when you die.  They will need to apply for a Grant of Probate, collect all the assets of the estate, deal with all the paperwork and pay any debts, taxes, funeral expenses and administration costs out of money in the estate.  They will then be responsible for transferring any gifts and legacies to the beneficiaries named in your Will.

Who should you choose as your executor(s)?

It is important to choose the people you appoint as executors with considerable care since their job can involve a great deal of work and responsibility.  The people you could choose to act as executors could be family members, trusted friends or a professional such as APS Legal.  While you can appoint just one executor, it’s always recommended that you appoint more than one in case one should pass away.  You can name two or more to act jointly or you can have one or two executors and one or two more as reserve.  Ideally, you should choose someone who is familiar with financial matters.

Do you need to ask their permission?

You do not have to let your executor know that they are named in your will, and they don’t need to give permission.  However, it’s always a good idea to ask someone that you are thinking of appointing as an executor to see if they are willing to take on the responsibility.  If someone is appointed who is not willing to be an executor, they have the right to refuse.

What about trustees?

Sometimes the duties of an executor can include long-term responsibilities, particularly if you include a trust in your Will, as the executors often also act as trustees.  In this case, it is best to check that the executor is aware of their long term duties and has agreed to take on this extra task.

Can an executor also benefit from the will? 

Yes, you can leave a gift, or part or all of the residue to your executor – ie., if you choose your husband, wife, son or daughter to be your executor, you can also name them as your beneficiary.

Will the executor charge fees to do the work? 

If you appoint a professional executor, then they will charge fees to undertake this task which are taken from the estate funds before the residue is distributed to beneficiaries.  If you appoint a spouse or family member, they will not be paid fees for this role, however they can decide to instruct professionals, such as APS Legal or a local solicitor, to do the work on their behalf, and then the fees charged will be paid out of the estate. 

Is an executor also an Attorney?

No. An executor deals with matters only after someone has died.  An Attorney deals with matters on behalf of someone who is alive but has problems with mental or physical capacity.  You can choose the same person(s) to do both, but it will be necessary to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney document in addition to a will, or if that’s not possible, apply to the Court of Protection to apply to act as a Deputy.