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How to Choose the Right Executors for Your Will


When you die, the executors named in your will take charge of all your money. So it is vital to choose the right people for the job.

Jill Waddington, head of Wills & Probate at Ridley & Hall, says: “Your executors should be people you trust. You need to be confident that they will manage your money appropriately. Your executors need to be able to work together. Warring executors cause delays and stress. With the right executors, the administration of your estate should be much more straightforward.”

Who can be an executor?

In principle, anyone – provided they are over 18. However, in practice, do not choose someone who lives abroad, or who owes you money or is bankrupt, and be careful about conflicts of interest (more on this below). It may sound obvious, but do not choose executors who dislike each other! Executors have to make unanimous decisions, so it is important that they can co-operate with each other.

How many executors should I choose?

The optimum number is between two and four. It is not ideal to have a sole executor. There is no check on their actions, and the administration of the estate will be disrupted if they die or lose capacity.

Making the choice

Different types of executor offer different advantages, for example:

  • A family member or friend may know you personally, and may agree to act without payment (except for expenses). However, there can be practical problems if they die or lose capacity. Also, because of the personal liability that executors may face if things go wrong, individuals may be reluctant to take on the role.
  • A professional executor, eg a firm of solicitors, will be regulated and insured and will offer legal expertise, but will charge for the service.

There are no hard and fast rules, because people’s circumstances differ, but the following choices are common:

  • For a small estate, two or three family members, who instruct professional advisers
  • For larger estates, professional executors

Conflicts of interest

If a beneficiary is an executor, there is a possible conflict of interest between his interests as beneficiary and his duties as executor. If, for example, adult children are executors of a Will in which they are also named as beneficiaries, there may be a conflict of interest.

Specific points to consider when appointing family members to be executors include:

  • Do they get on?
  • Is there a balance between different parts of a family (for example, are all the children executors, or only some of them)?
  • Is there an independent executor (for example, a solicitor)?

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Ridley & Hall have an expert Wills & Probate team who can offer specialist legal advice on all aspects of Wills and estate administration. Please contact us on 01484 538421.

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