Who should I have as the executor of my will?
The answer to ‘who should I have as executor of my will?’ is often ‘someone in your family’. But what if there isn’t an obvious person in your family to take on this role? What do you do then?
In my book, Before I Go: The Essential Guide to Creating a Good End of Life Plan, I describe an executor as:
the person named in your will who will deal with your finances and possessions after you have died. In most countries you are allowed to have more than one executor but there may be a maximum to how many you can have. For example, at the time of writing, in Scotland, any number is allowed but in England and Wales, a maximum of four is allowed. However, it is advisable to appoint at least two people, either jointly or with one as a substitute, just in case a person named as a sole executor dies before you, at which point you may not remember to update your will, or you may not have the capacity to do so.
So ideally you need two people, that’s double the pressure to find someone! At this point, many people give up, or ‘doing the will’ slips down the priority list and before you know it, months or even years have gone by and it still hasn’t been done.
So here’s a few tips on what you need to think about before choosing an executor:
1. It can be someone outside your family. Think more widely than immediate family, and think of friends or colleagues who might be up for the job. Legally an executor must deal with your estate following all the guidelines in your country, and there is quite a lot of administrative work involved (I go into this in more detail in my book) .
2. Your executor can be a professional. Of course this means they will get paid to do their job, but you most likely can at least trust they will do it properly.
3. They can be a beneficiary of your will. You can have your executor be a beneficiary in your will if you want, meaning they will inherit whatever you put in your will for them. You can also arrange for them to be paid for the executry work they do – check in your country or state if this is indeed the case, as it sometimes varies.
4. Think of someone who is good at admin and will be able to follow the instructions you have left in your will – it will be their job to do this and find fair solutions to any disagreements.
5. It must be someone you trust – this is crucial, whether a professional, a friend, a colleague or family member.
Now take action to choose the executor of your will!
Make a list off the top of your head as to who it could be – just brainstorm, no judgment as to their capacities at the moment. Think as widely as you can, regardless of whether you think they would say yes or no.
Once you have your list, go back over it and filter them through the above points. Choose your preferred people, and then approach them.
Ideally they need to know what you have in your will at any time, and they definitely need to know its location. If you are choosing an online storage vault like Biscuit Tin, then make sure they are authorised to gain access to your account after you have died.
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Choosing an executor is just one of the topics in our self-paced online end of life planning course, the Before I Go Method. Check it out here