An executor is a person named in your will who has the responsibility of managing your property after your death and distributing that property according to the terms of your will.
The executor will have to collect in and preserve your assets, pay all relevant taxes and liabilities, obtain a grant of probate, sell those assets that need to be sold, and finally distribute your assets to your beneficiaries.
In some instances, money may not be paid directly to all your beneficiaries and may be held for their benefit. This is most common where the gift is to minor children or to someone pending their fulfilment of a condition, such as reaching a certain age.
If this happens, the money will be paid to the person or persons you appoint as trustee.
We recommend that you appoint the same person or persons as both executor and trustee when writing your will.
Trustees are then responsible for holding the monies and looking after them for the benefit of the beneficiaries. They are entrusted with investing the monies and generally safeguarding them.
In some instances, trustees have the ability to distribute all or part of the monies to the beneficiaries or use them for their benefit, if they think that this is in the interest of the beneficiaries.
You must appoint at least one executor to carry out the instructions in your will and it’s usual to appoint two. Two executors should be appointed if the will contains a gift to children, some of whom may be under 18 when you die.
You should also appoint a replacement executor in case one of the named executors is, for any reason, unable to act.
The primary concern in selecting executors for your will is that they should be reliable and trustworthy in carrying out your wishes. It’s also desirable that at least one executor should know the beneficiaries of the will personally.
Often the best way is to appoint the person who stands to benefit most from your will as one executor, and another relative or close friend as the second executor to assist or to take over should the first be unable to act.
A person cannot act as executor for your will while under 18. The duties of an executor need not be difficult and your executor can use a solicitor to process the necessary probate forms.
Always check with your proposed executors before making your will to be certain they are willing to act; a template letter to an executor is provided in Lawpack’s Last Will & Testament DIY Will Kit.
- What are an executor’s duties?
- What to do when someone dies – a checklist
- What to do after a death – Scotland
- Making a will: how to leave a gift in your will
- Making a will: how to name guardians for your children