Who is in charge of your Will? What happens when you’re appointed as an executor of a Will? This Damsons guide tells you everything about Will executors.
An executor of a Will is responsible for dealing with a deceased person’s estate, finances and/or property. An executor needs to act in accordance with the wishes of the Will, ensuring the desires are carried out lawfully and respectfully. Anyone over the age of 18 can be an executor, and it is also possible for numerous executors to collectively manage a single Will.
In your own Will, you’ll need to choose a person to act as your executor. At some point, you may also be elected by someone else to be an executor yourself. Here’s what you need to know about the role.
- Registering the death
- Submitting the Will to probate (a grant of probate gives you the right to handle an estate)
- Obtain copies of the Will
- Valuing the estate and distributing assets correctly
- Identifying and contacting appropriate organisations and institutions
- Arranging payments for ongoing expenses (utility bills, mortgages, insurance)
- Filing a final tax return on behalf of the deceased
- Handling any money paid to the deceased person after their death
There are lots of tasks for an executor to complete, and the complexity of these tasks varies depending on the nature of the Will, with some being far more complicated than others.
Who to choose as an executor?
Picking an executor for your estate requires serious thought.
First and foremost, you must choose someone you know you can trust. The executor of your Will is responsible for making sure your wishes are carried out, so having faith in this person is crucial. Given the sensitive nature of the role, a lot of people choose a family member to be their executor. Up to four executors can handle your estate, so if you’re torn between a few individuals in your family, you can appoint them all and let them divide up the work between them.
Aside from being trustworthy, your executor will also ideally be competent with paperwork, finances and have a basic understanding of how legal matters such as this work. A good choice would be someone with previous experience acting as an executor, provided the role was not too much of a burden for them in the past, or they were unsuitable for the position due to other commitments.
Bear in mind that playing the role of executor can be draining for certain people, especially when there are a wide variety of complex requests to fulfil. If you don’t wish to burden your loved ones with complicated wishes, you can turn to a solicitor to act as the executor of your Will instead. The benefits of selecting someone like this to handle your Will is that they have an invaluable amount of knowledge and experience in this field. Aside from being more suited to the role in terms of time commitments, a solicitor will also be adept at handling complex tax and property issues which your family may not fully understand. Recruiting the services of a solicitor will often require a fee. Many people grant the solicitor a small portion of their estate in their Will as a form of payment, but other forms of remuneration can be negotiated.
How to be an executor
If you’re chosen to be an executor, you need to take the role seriously. Acting as an executor is not always an easy task, and will require you to put some work in to make sure the deceased person’s wishes are carried out.
If you know you’re going to be chosen to be someone’s executor, then it is worth learning the details of that person’s estate as soon as possible. By familiarising yourself with this individual’s requests early on, you can be in a better position to successfully carry them out when the time comes. Learn where they are planning to store the Will too, as it will be your responsibility as the executor to track this document down when the individual passes away.
It’s also worth trying to take some time off work, provided this is possible. Dealing with an estate can be difficult when you’re in a full-time job as you have other priorities. Having a few hours or even a couple of days off from work can really help you out when it comes to fulfilling your executor duties.
Effective communication is paramount when you’re the executor of a Will. You will have the responsibility of informing family and friends about the death and placing a notice in the local paper to encourage people to attend the funeral. You will of course be required to be in contact with the deceased individual’s creditors and debtors, ensuring money changes hands in the right way and goes to the right people.
One service that can help to ease and facilitate the communication process is Tell Us Once. This organisation will contact all the relevant establishments on your behalf, saving you the trouble of making several phone calls.
Value the estate
As an executor, you will be tasked with determining exactly how much the estate you’re handling is worth. The deceased individual may have already valued their estate themselves and outlined this figure in the Will, but it is always worth conducting a valuation yourself. Damsons can help you when it comes to valuing an estate. We have specialists on staff who can provide guidance, assistance and assist you with the financial calculations.