What Does it Mean to be an Executor of a Will?
19 May 2017
An Executor is someone with the legal authority to wind up your affairs after you die. You appoint an Executor/s when you make a Will.
Executors are necessary because, when you die, you’ll leave behind everything you own, such as property, savings, pensions, investments, and other possessions like your car or your pets. All of these things need to be dealt with properly in accordance with the law.
Executor duties involve a lot of work, including:
- Notifying organisations about the death, for example utility companies, HM Revenue & Customs, and the Department of Work and Pensions
- Applying to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate
- Closing down bank accounts
- Paying off any debts or liabilities that are outstanding
- Gathering in all the assets, such as stocks and shares, and calculating their value
- Selling or transferring property
- Calculating and paying tax, including Inheritance Tax
- Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries named in the Will
The Executor duties listed above will need to be carried out by someone after your death, and a Will gives you the chance to decide exactly who this person will be.
Therefore making a Will ensures that you can name someone of your choosing to deal with your affairs. This is very important as lots of people have a clear idea of who they would (or wouldn’t) want to do the job.
By giving responsibility to one person, or a small group of people, you will also make things easier for your loved ones. Otherwise it will be unclear as to who should carry out what tasks, which can in turn lead to delays and disagreements.
If you die without making a Will, a set of laws called the Rules of Intestacy will decide who administers your Estate and the law will decide who gets what.
When making a Will, you’ll be asked to name Executors. Most people choose one or two Executors, although you can name more if you want. You can also choose substitute Executors, in case someone you originally appoint dies before you or is unwilling or unable to do the role at the required time.
Often people choose a close friend or family member to be an Executor, such as a spouse or child. This is perfectly acceptable and it doesn’t matter if you also want to name that person as a beneficiary – your Executor can be a beneficiary. You can also name a professional Executor if you wish, for instance a Solicitor or an accountant. Above all, your Executors should be people you trust.
However it’s important to note there are certain rules that say an Executor must:
- Be aged 18 or over
- Be mentally capable of carrying out the role of Executor
For further advice on choosing an Executor of a Will, see our Top Tips on Appointing an Executor. When you make your Will with Co-op Legal Services, you can also discuss the options with one of our Will writers.