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Naming the Executor of my Will – what are the pitfalls?

One of the principal considerations when writing a Will, is declaring those you wish to have as Executors.  Executors are the nominated representatives who take on the responsibility after your death, for ensuring that your wishes as laid out in your Will are met, and distributing your Estate, accordingly.  It is their job to collate the assets, take care of funeral costs and any debts, before dividing the remainder among your beneficiaries as per your stated wishes in your Will.

Most Wills usually nominate anywhere between one and four Executors, although generally a minimum of two is advised, in the event that one dies before the event of your death.  Your Executors may be family, friends, or a professional body.

Choosing friends and family may seem initially like the simple solution, when looking to keep costs to a minimum.  However, this is an important role that brings with it a great deal of responsibility and quite a lot of work, so choose carefully.  If you appoint someone who either is reluctant at the outset, or later changes their mind when they realise what is involved, they are then within their rights to refuse, which could then cause problems with probate, delaying the settlement and leaving effectively freezing finances.

Although professional organisations such as Will writers will charge a fee, which they should be happy to draw your attention to before you agree to naming them as Executor, they in turn have the knowledge, experience and enough detachment to deal effectively with any problems which may arise during probate and perhaps even reduce Inheritance Tax liability in some cases. Fees will be deducted from the Estate before settlements are made, but this agreement does offer a degree of confidence that your Estate is in good hands – if you shop around and do your research beforehand.

Remember too that once you have decided who you would like to appoint as Executors, these parties will then be named in your Will.  However, these details can be changed at a later date should either party want to change their mind.

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