When you make a will, you will need to nominate an executor who will be responsible for managing your estate once you are gone. The executor carries out the wishes of the deceased, manages the estate within the terms of the will, and winds up the deceased’s affairs.
Executors are responsible for locating the will and making funeral arrangements where applicable. They meet with family and business associates, advise beneficiaries, and find out the immediate needs of the family.
The executor is responsible for taking an inventory and valuing the estate, working out the assets and debts, and protecting the deceased’s property until debts and taxes have been paid. The executor is also responsible for transferring the remaining assets to beneficiaries.
The executor’s tasks also include collecting valuables and income, insuring the property, and keeping extra funds invested. The executor might use estate funds to pay for ongoing expenses like utilities, mortgages, and insurance. He or she will lodge tax returns as well. If disputes between beneficiaries arise, your executor will be the party meditating and dealing with these.
The executor is also responsible for applying for the Grant of Probate and other legal formalities like paying liabilities and preparing accounting and tax information for beneficiaries. The executor might be in charge of establishing trusts and managing assets over the longer term if required. The executor will also be the one dealing with claims from potential beneficiaries.
So your executor oversees all these matters and they might need expert help from lawyers and other professionals to fulfill their responsibilities. In this case, your estate will be paying for the costs of the advice.
Who can you nominate as an executor?
When you nominate an executor, they can be anyone 18 and over, including a close family member or a close friend. In addition, your chosen executor can be a beneficiary of your estate. However, if you do choose a beneficiary to be an executor, make sure you can trust their ability to stay impartial.
Your executor could be your child, a niece or nephew, or your lawyer or accountant. The executor could be a professional executor services company. While family and friends usually serve as executor for free, a third-party trustee service will charge your estate for the work.
Note you can nominate multiple executors in your will, and you can change your executors whenever you choose. If you appoint multiple executors, you might want to clarify whether they’re to act jointly or if additional executors are substitutes only.
How to choose an executor
Your executor doesn’t need to be a legal or financial professional, but you’ll want to look for certain qualities when picking your executor.
- Review personal qualities
Honesty, impartiality, and diligence are great qualities for executors. Your executor should inspire trust in you and you should be confident they’ll carry out your final wishes when you’re no longer around.
You should be confident they can handle complex legal and financial issues while acting meticulously with strong attention to detail. Someone able to deal with lawyers, financial advisors, and other professionals could also make a great executor as this would be part of their role.
Ideally, your executor is someone who’s good at overseeing paperwork and legal issues. Look for qualities like dependability, good organization skills, and ability to meet deadlines.
The executor’s role is a time-consuming and demanding one, so your nominated executor should be someone who can work under stressful and possibly emotionally draining situations. An executor who has knowledge of your values and your family’s situation could be a good choice.
- Consider age and health
Choosing someone in good health who’s younger than you is a good idea because you’ll want an executor who significantly outlives you. However, try to balance age with qualities like maturity, good judgment, and experience (although these might not always be mutually exclusive).
- Check their willingness
Finally, don’t forget to discuss this with your chosen executor and make sure they’re happy to be nominated. You’ll want to give them a copy of your will and explain their role to them so they’re aware of their responsibilities.
Make sure your executor is someone who’s likely to be available and have the time and capacity to fulfill their role. You could look for someone who lives in the same state or at least the same country, for example. Your executor ideally is someone who lives close by and who’s easy to track down and likely not to be overseas.
Selecting your executor is one of the most critical decisions when writing your will, so take time to carefully consider who would make the best executor when writing your will. The right executor could mean your final wishes are carried out as you intend and your estate is distributed accurately in a timely way without family disputes.