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What is an executor, what do they do, and how do I appoint one?

It is only natural that you want someone responsible and trustworthy to be in charge of your estate once you’re gone. That person (or persons) is called the executor.

In this blog, we are going to explore what exactly an executor does, who can be an executor, and how many can be appointed.

Who can be an executor?

An executor can be almost anyone, including a friend, business partner or family member, providing they are over the age of 18 and are of sufficient mental capacity – meaning they can make competent decisions.

Solicitors are also commonly assigned as executors due to their broad knowledge of the probate system.

What does an executor do?

An executor is in charge of administering the deceased’ estate. They are responsible for paying any outstanding taxes and debt and distributing the estate as described in the deceased’ Will. A general list of duties may include:

  • Calculating the value of the estate
  • Paying debts, such as mortgages or credit card loans, out of the estate
  • Accounting for Inheritance Tax (IHT)
  • Applying for a grant of probate
  • Paying funeral costs out of the estate
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries
  • Acting as a trustee if a trust is established

Are executors paid?

Unless they are carrying out the role as a legal professional, executors cannot usually charge for their time or services.

They can, however, recover “reasonable expenses” they incur in the course of their duties. These are defined as costs that “would not have arisen were they not acting as your executor” and “only cover the executor themselves”.

If you appoint a solicitor as your executor, any costs – usually taken directly from the estate – will be agreed at the outset.

Can I appoint multiple executors?

Yes, it is common – and indeed beneficial – to appoint more than one executor. This usually ensures that at least one executor is alive and has the mental capacity to deliver your final wishes. Joint executors are also useful in the event of a dispute, as they can help to ensure fair decisions are made.

If more than one executor is named but it is agreed that just one will administer the estate, the surplus executor can choose to renounce their duties (providing they have not started any administration work) or serve a Notice of Power Reserved. The latter indicates that the executor does not plan to have an active role in the estate administration but may do so at a later date should something happen to the primary executor.

How do I appoint an executor?

You can appoint up to four executors in your Will. You should speak with your named executors beforehand and have them agree in writing to deliver your wishes as planned.

Without a named executor, a court will appoint a family member or other suitable person to administer your estate.

Get expert advice today

For help and advice with related matters, including drafting a Will and appointing an executor, please get in touch with our later life planning team today.

Mander Hadley

Mander Hadley Solicitors is not only a long established firm, but is vibrant and successful, with a forward thinking approach.