Something we get asked all the time here at Heritage Estate Planning is:
- Who should I appoint as my Executor, and
- How many should I have
Like making a Will, the answer to these two questions depends on your own individual circumstances but there are general “rules” that we tend to apply! Let me start by explaining the role and responsibilities of an Executor as this may well help answer these common questions for you!
The role of an Executor
At first you just think this is someone that will sort things out for you when you pass away! However, the role of an Executor is so much more than that! Not only do they need to collate all the financial information including savings, mortgages, credit card agreements, pensions, utility bills, etc, an Executor is also legally responsible for the estate until the funds are distributed to the beneficiaries. This comes with large responsibility and, something that stays with me today, is when a scenario was outlined regarding a deceased’s property! Buildings and contents insurance cease on the death of the policyholder meaning the Executor(s) need to locate details of the Insurance Company and act swiftly to re-insure the property to prevent any potential loss to the estate should something happen. Should the property burn down prior to the insurance being resolved, the Executor(s) could be liable to reimburse the estate for the lost value. This is just one example but, as you can see, the responsibility of the Executors is a lot more than just sorting things out, so it is important to consider wisely! The Executor(s) are also responsible for applying for Grant of Probate and releasing expenses to cover things like funeral costs, inheritance tax, etc. Basically, they are the “gatekeeper” of your estate until Grant of Probate has been agreed and the residual estate distributed to the beneficiaries; this can take several months!
Who Should I appoint as my Executor?
This really is down to who you trust and consider capable of dealing with the tasks outlined above. Anyone over the age of 18 can be an Executor but it is worth considering what they would need to do to understand if you feel they are the right person to be responsible for such an important role. The Executor(s) can also be beneficiaries and that is quite common. It is worth considering where they live and do they get on, as they will need to act jointly. For example, having two Executors in different countries will cause unnecessary delays and inconvenience when trying to resolve the estate.
How many Executors should I have?
Given the size of the task it is recommended to have at least two Executors. Broadly speaking, you can have as many Executors as you want but a maximum of four will be able to apply for Grant of Probate. If you are married, the surviving spouse is normally documented as one of the Executors but doesn’t have to be. It really is your choice!
If you would like to know more please contact us here for a no obligation consultation…….