How many Executors are needed for your will is down to your own personal preference. However, it’s very important to choose the right people. Find out more...
An Executor is the person legally responsible for carrying out your wishes in accordance with your will after you die. You can choose who your Executors are by formally naming them in your will.
How many Executors are needed for your will is down to your own personal preference, as one person or up to four can act as Executor at once. However, no matter how many Executors you think are needed to carry out your instructions and deal with your estate, it’s very important to choose the right people.
What does an Executor do?
As well as bearing the responsibility of making sure the terms of your will are properly carried out, Executors will have to deal with the overall administration of your estate, from notifying banks and building societies to getting Probate, if it is needed .
To be an Executor in England and Wales, a person must be over 18 and have the necessary mental capability. Their duties are extensive and include:
Registering your death and obtaining your death certificate.
Organising your funeral.
Notifying any relevant organisations.
Valuing your assets and liabilities.
Taking care of any outstanding tax returns.
Reporting the value of the state to HMRC.
Getting the Grant of Probate.
Paying any Inheritance Tax, if applicable.
Dealing with any other debts and expenses.
Distributing the estate to any named beneficiaries.
It’s a very serious and often complex role that carries with it a great deal of responsibility, especially as the Executors can be held personally liable should they get something wrong. They could also be drawn into complicated legal action should there be any dispute or claim against the estate.
Choosing one or more Executors
Firstly, make sure that you choose people you trust, and that they will be competent in dealing with paperwork and managing legal issues. Sometimes naming more than one Executor can have its advantages, for example they might decide to divide the work up to make administering the estate more manageable.
Most people choose family members as Executors, but make sure you check they’re happy to do the job before naming them in your will. When choosing your husband, wife or partner, to serve as Executor, consider naming somebody else as well. Those closest to you will be dealing with their grief, so choosing multiple Executors will help alleviate the burden of paperwork and responsibility at this difficult time.
Opting for a professional Executor
There is also the option of appointing professionals as Executors, such as solicitors, banks, or accountants. This can be beneficial, especially if your will is quite complicated.
Appointing a professional to administer your Estate instead of someone who might also be a beneficiary can also keep things neutral. In some cases, appointing family members could result in further stress due to disagreements.
When choosing a professional to act as Executor, there will be a price for their services. This cost will often be payable out of the estate itself, as the professional will write their share of the total value of your estate into your will. Sometimes they will simply send a bill for their services once everything has been dealt with. Always check how much you’ll be charged before you appoint a professional Executor.
Making your choice
Even when an estate is relatively small and the instructions in the will are straightforward, acting as the Executor will still be a complicated and time-consuming role.
You can name as many Executors in your will as you like, but the maximum number of people who can act as Executor at any one time is four.
It is the Executors who are responsible for getting the Grant of Probate when it is needed for dealing with the deceased’s estate.