Executors – Make Sure You Choose Carefully

Executors must be chosen with great care and forethought. After all, they are the people you are entrusting with ALL your “worldly goods” – your hard-earned assets – by their appointment in your Will. In short, if you don’t trust them, don’t appoint them!

Executors are person(s), whom you name in your Will to take the responsibility of “finalising your affairs” after your death by following your instructions as given in your Will. In their capacity as Executors, they are also appointed as Trustees, should a Trust arise within the Will. So, it can be seen that they hold a very responsible position and are held legally liable for their actions in the administration of the deceased’s Estate.

Most usually, it is friends and family members who are appointed as Executors within Wills – and that is perfectly acceptable from a legal standpoint. There is no law which says that you must appoint a professional as Executor. However, whilst it is rare for a friend or relative to refuse the position of Executor, they accept mostly in ignorance of what the job entails. This can then result in a situation where, when the time comes to take up their position, they immediately employ a Solicitor or other professional in Probate and Estate Administration to do the job and of course, such professionals will charge for their services. Currently, most solicitors’ charges work out to approximately 4-5% of the total Estate value and Banks, I am sorry to report, charge even more – sometimes as much as 8-10% of the total Estate value. So, please take care when appointing your chosen Executors.

If you simply have no family or friends whom you feel you can justifiably appoint, you may like to consider Trust Corporations – of which there are now several nationwide. They are specialists in the area of Estate Administration and Trust Work. Most work on the basis of a fixed fee, agreed prior to commencement of the work, and this fee generally equates to 1-2% of the Estate value. If appointed within a Will, they meet with the family immediately following the deceased’s passing, and agree a plan of action and their fee. Should the family for any reason not find them or their proposal satisfactory, they resign without costs.

Some Executors find themselves perfectly able to carry out all the work of Probate and Estate administration themselves, but just need a “helping hand” throughout the process. This is available from most Will Writing Companies (including my own) at a modest charge.