An executor plays an important role in making sure the wishes laid out in a will come to pass. But what does an executor do exactly?
If you’ve been offered the role of executor – or you’re considering who the best choice to make executors of your own will would be – here is everything you need to know.
What Is An Executor Of A Will?
An executor is legally responsible for making sure the instructions laid out in a will are carried out.
Almost anyone can be named as an executor of a will. However, it is a role that comes with some serious responsibilities attached. So it’s worth making your choice as to who yours should be carefully – or whether you should accept if offered the role.
Two executors are normally named in a will as a kind of future surety in case one pre-deceases the person whose will it is. It is possible to name up to four executors though.
What Do Executors Of A Will Do?
An executor’s role involves several key tasks in the probate process:
1. Distributing the estate to beneficiaries – making sure the deceased’s money, possessions, investments, property, and other items go to the named beneficiaries.
2. Settling any outstanding liabilities – debts such as loans or credit cards need to be paid from the estate at the instigation of the executor.
3. Paying taxes and fees – Inheritance Tax needs to be filed for and this and other taxes and fees paid.
4. Making funeral and other special arrangements – the executor may also be asked within the will to perform other special duties or make funeral arrangements, though these are not always legally binding.
What Powers Does An Executor Have?
The powers of an executor all relate to distributing (and managing the distribution of) the estate of a person who has died.
The executors of a will need to be named within it and only become executors once the person whose will it is has passed away.
An executor does not have the power to change the terms of a will. They can’t alter what any beneficiaries receive from the will or even delay the inheritances unless the will specifically says they can.
Giving executors the power to do things like withhold inheritances until certain conditions are met needs to be explicitly stated in the will.
Can You Benefit From A Will If You Are An Executor?
Yes, you can benefit from a will if you are also an executor named in it. In fact, it’s common for spouses or partners to be both executors and beneficiaries.
The only will writing-related role an executor cannot take is that of witness. If your executor witnesses your will they may not be entitled to their legacy as a beneficiary.
Should I Agree To Be An Executor?
An executor’s role is a responsible one and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Especially when you’re grieving, it can be an extra layer of stress and difficulty at a time when even daily life is a chore.
This means agreeing to be an executor should only be done after some careful thought. You should also bear in mind that the role calls for quite a bit of paperwork. So, if this is something you’re not happy doing you may consider respectfully refusing.
However, a person asking you to be the executor of their will is a sign of deep and abiding trust. It’s worth taking this into account before making your final decision.
Who Should I Choose As An Executor In My Will?
The most common choices to make executor of a will are:
- A close friend, partner, or a family member
- A professional, such as a solicitor, accountant, or public trustee
- An organisation, such as a bank
As we’ve seen, the role of executor can be time-consuming and difficult, requiring a great deal of admin work in some cases. It’s also one that calls for someone you trust completely.
After considering what an executor of a will does, you can make your careful decision as to who in your life fits the bill or whether using an impartial institution might be the right choice for you.
Not Sure Who To Make Executor Of Your Will?
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