Who should I choose as my executor for my Will? Here are 3 tips for picking an executor.
What are executors?
Executors are the people who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes and sorting out the estate. I have a separate guide that explains in more detail the role of executors, but for now, I will provide a brief summary. They will have to gather all the assets of your estate, deal with all the paperwork, and pay all the debts, taxes, funeral, and administration costs out of the money in the estate. They will need to distribute the gifts and transfer any property to your beneficiaries.
Who to choose as executors
You don't have to appoint more than one executor, but it is definitely a good idea to do so in case one of them dies or doesn't have the capacity to act when your time comes. Most people like to appoint two, but you can have as many as four executors to split the responsibility for facilitating the will once you've passed. Typically, most people appointed as executors are friends or relatives, but you can also appoint professional executors, although this will incur fees. It is important to choose executors with considerable care since their job involves a great deal of work and responsibility. You should always approach anyone you are thinking of appointing as an executor to see if they will agree to take on the responsibility. If someone is appointed who is not willing to be an executor, they have the right to refuse.
Tip 1 for picking an executor:
Pick with your head, not your heart. It's more important that you pick someone who will have the emotional capacity and a practical mind to take on this task. I've heard from clients all the time about picking people just because they were worried about upsetting a less responsible person by not appointing them. The chosen executor(s) should be responsible enough to address estate matters quickly, effectively communicate with beneficiaries, and make hard decisions when necessary.
Tip 2 for picking an executor:
Name at least one younger executor. If you're young, it's not unreasonable to pick people your own age, but as you get older and your circumstances change, you are likely to rewrite your Will. At this point, you should try to name at least one additional younger, healthy successor executor who is likely to outlive you.
Tip 3 for picking an executor:
If in doubt, get a professional. Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough, but to grieve and deal with all this extra administration is a lot to take on. Sometimes it is better to choose a professional and accept the fact that it may cost the estate. Is that cost more important than someone's mental health? If you do know people whom you sincerely believe can step up to the task, then absolutely choose them. If not, appoint a professional. It could be a solicitor, an accountant, or a trust corporation, to name a few.
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