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Choosing your executor

Every step of the estate planning process is important. However, choosing who you want to distribute your assets after you die could be one of the biggest decisions you'll have to take.

How do you make sure you pick the right person to manage your estate?

What does an executor do?

The person you name as your executor will be in charge of handling your estate after your death. Their main responsibilities will be to:

  • assess the value of your estate at the time of death
  • distribute your assets to the beneficiaries
  • apply for a probate (a legal document that gives the executor access to your assets)
  • pay any bills, debts and charges that you owed before death
  • complete income, capital gains and inheritance tax returns and paying any outstanding tax due.

Who can be my executor?

Anyone aged over 18 can be an executor. Friends and relatives, solicitors and bank representatives are usually appointed as executors but you can name anyone as long as they're an adult and capable of looking after your finances.

You should think about appointing more than one executor to administer your estate. This will avoid the complications that result if one of them dies or otherwise becomes unable to fulfil their duties. Most people name two executors but a maximum of four can be named.

I don't know anyone who can be my executor

In the unlikely event that you don't know anyone who is suitable to be your executor, you can turn to a government official known as the Public Trustee. Appointed by the Lord Chancellor, the Public Trustee administers estates for people without an executor and can act in the interest for disabled or vulnerable people. As an example, they would be asked to step in if you left your estate to one person who was incapable of acting as an executor.

Things to consider

You should think twice about choosing one of your beneficiaries as your executor. This could lead to a conflict of interest if the executor needs to choose who to give assets to. Asking a business partner to be your executor can also create similar problems.

Bear in mind also that the job of an executor can be complex and demanding. Much of the job involves financial and administrative tasks so make sure the person you choose has the required expertise. This is especially true if you own complicated assets or have a particularly large or complex estate.

We can help

Our accountants can act as trustees or executors. Fill out our contact form, call 0208 515 2929 or email info@sterlingca.com to learn about our estate planning service.