The purpose of the Will is to set out who you wish to benefit under your Will but also to appoint suitable individual or individuals who will ensure that your wishes as set out in your Will are carried out. This person is called an executor. The responsibility of administrating your estate and carrying out your wishes in your Will on your death falls to the executor(s) and therefore you should give careful thought to your choice of executor.
To help you make the decisions as to who you should appoint it is helpful to look at the duties of an executor.
What are the duties of the executor(s) appointed under my Will?
The duties of an executor include the following:
- Taking charge of and protecting your assets, such as making sure that the property is insured, that property tax is discharged, ascertaining what assets you have (i.e. bank accounts, shares, pensions and life policies, etc.).
- Taking care of funeral arrangements – you should let your executor and family know what your wishes are in relation to burial and funeral arrangements. It is common that the reading of the Will takes place after the funeral. While an individual can set out in their Will their wishes as to their burial and funeral arrangements, it is important to let the family know as it is common for family members to make arrangements without reference to an individual’s Will. Funeral expenses are discharged out of the funds in the estate by the executor.
- Notifying the beneficiaries named in your Will what gift or share of the estate they are to receive.
- Obtaining an authority to administer your estate in the form of a Grant of Probate. This is a High Court document that the executor applies for so he/she can gather in the assets of the estate and distribute the estate as per your Will.
- Paying funeral expenses and discharging any debts of your estate.
- Finalising income tax returns.
- Distributing your assets according to the directions as set out in your Will. Sometimes in order to distribute your assets it may include the selling the property, shares, etc.
Who should you appoint as your executor(s) in you Will?
Your executor does not need any special qualifications, but you should choose someone reliable. You can appoint one or more executors, and you can appoint an alternative executor in case your primary executor is unable or unwilling to act after your death.
Any beneficiary under your Will can act as an executor of your Will. Executors should be appointed with care. As said, your executor does not need to have any special qualifications, but you should choose someone who is reliable and willing to act and are in a position to carry out the duties of an executor. Your executor is not bound to act as your executor therefore it can be wise to talk the matter over with them first.
Family members are appointed in the majority of cases. It is advisable to appoint an executor who is resident in the state as an executor residing outside the state could cause practical difficulties in administering the estate.
Executors normally appoint a firm of experienced solicitors to deal with the legal aspects of obtaining the Grant of Probate .
The age of the executor is a factor that should be given consideration when appointing executors. While there is no age requirement there are obvious reasons against appointing someone who is too elderly or is still a minor. You should consider the responsibilities and duties of the executors before you decide on the executor or executors of your Will.
It is important to note that if you appoint an executor who is under the age of 18 years at the date of your death, they will not be permitted to apply for the Grant of Probate. The minor’s guardian or such person as the court thinks fit can be appointed to apply for the Grant of Probate for the minor.
It is not a requirement that you obtain a person’s consent before appointing them as executor or executors under your Will but from a practical point of view it would be advisable to ask the person or persons whether or not they are willing to act.
Who you appoint as executor in your Will in entirely up to you. Appointing an executor in a Will can be done by simply naming him/her in your Will.
Some helpful advice
- If you are leaving everything in your Will to only one person it is practical to appoint that person as your executor.
- If you are leaving everything to your spouse then it makes sense to appoint your spouse as your executor.
- If you are leaving everything to your children in the event that your spouse dies before you, then consider appointing one or more of your children. In particular appoint a child that is over 18 years old, and often if you have a child that is an accountant or is very organised or has acted as an executor in an estate before, they can often be a good option as executor.At Browne & Murphy Solicitors we have over 10 years experience in the administration of estates and can act on your behalf and administer your estate in an independent, efficient and professional manner. You may appoint us to act as the sole executor of your estate or jointly with a family member, relative or friend.
- Please contact us if you would like further advice or assistance.
- Sometimes the above options are not always suitable. You can appoint a professional executor such as a solicitor to act as your executor in your Will.
What are the advantages to having a professional executor?
- We can gather all the information required to facilitate identifying and gathering in all your assets and administer your estate as per your Will, thereby assisting your family and making the process less stressful for them.
- Your estate can be administered in a timely and efficient manner by an experienced solicitor with the skills necessary to wind up the estate quickly ; and
- The executor will be independent in case a dispute arises in relation to your estate.
How many executors do I appoint in my Will ?
While one Executor is sufficient it is wiser to appoint more than one. As the situation can arise that the executor you have appointed in your Will in not able to act. There is no limit on the number of executors that you can appoint in your Will, but problems can arise if too many executors are appointed. It is very common for people to appoint family members and/or a professional as executor.
If you wish to discuss the appointment of an executor or would like advice on any matter relating to your will and estate planning, please contact us to arrange a convenient appointment.