Choosing Executors and Trustees
Executors are appointed in your Will and deal with your financial affairs after your death. Choosing your partner, a close friend or family member is a sensible option and we recommend that you allow them the option to seek professional assistance. If you have property you will ideally appoint two Executors, but you can have more than this if you wish, and you can appoint substitutes.
Your Executors will:
- locate your Will – it makes sense to tell your Executors that you have appointed them; and let them know where your Will is being kept to ensure that they can access it promptly.
- locate your assets – including bank & building society accounts, life insurance policies etc. It makes sense to compile a list and keep it up to date. Don’t forget your digital assets – there are secure services online for keeping track of these details.
- distribute heirlooms, jewellery or other specific items in accordance with any directions in your Will, and then sell the remainder.
- pay your debts and distribute any surplus cash or assets in accordance with the instructions in your Will.
- sign over any assets that are to be held in a trust fund to the people you have appointed as your Trustees.
- The age of your chosen Executors – will they be able to cope with the work involved? Are they likely to survive to the end of any Trust?
- Where do they live – will they be able to deal with the logistics of selling and/or clearing a house, for example?
- Financial knowledge – do they have the skills to look after and invest a potentially large sum of money? They will be able to take expert advice but will still need to make decisions based on that advice.
- Their outlook on life – do the Trustees have the same standards as you or do they know you well enough to know what action you might have taken in a particular circumstance? Would they spend money on your children in a similar way to you?
When money is being left to children under the age of 18 it will usually be held in trust by the Trustees who are also appointed in your Will. The Trustees are often the Executors, but they can be different people. For example, you may wish to appoint a professional to manage a trust fund for your grandchildren.
Your Will can give options to your Trustees that will govern the way the Trust is set up and run. You can decide at what age children receive their inheritance, when and under what circumstances money being held in the Trust Fund can be used for children’s benefit, and whether or not money can be made available for their guardians.
You can choose what powers the Trustees have (and don’t have) while they are looking after the Trust Fund. For example, you may not want them to borrow money against your assets or you may want to give a professional trustee a very free rein.
In choosing Executors and Trustees you should consider:
Talk to your chosen Executors. Explain what you want them to do and what is important to you. You can leave a Letter of Wishes with your Will that can guide your Trustees in addition to your discussions with them. Our free advice service extends to your Executors and Trustees – just call, email or use our online chat service and we promise to do whatever we can to help.
A note of caution – please do not appoint Executors without their permission! They might choose to renounce their role if they feel that they were not consulted which could lead to delays and extra expense.