Preparing your Executors for winding up your estate

An Executor is the person (or people) named in your Will who will be charged with winding up your estate and finalising your affairs after you pass away.  Choosing your Executors is one of the most important decisions you will need to make when drafting your Will, as you want to choose those you can trust to carry out the job well. In this article, we discuss how you can best prepare your Executors for their role.

Choosing the right Executors

The Executor’s role involves numerous responsibilities that can be onerous, especially if the Will is contested. As well as being trustworthy and reliable, it will be helpful if they are financially literate and well organised as the tasks can be time consuming. 

An understanding of the law is useful, but many Executors will appoint solicitors to act on their behalf in administering the estate, so it is not essential. If there is more than one Executor it is important they can work well together.

To find out more about your Executor’s role, read our guide for Executors here. 

Can an Executor also be a beneficiary? 

Beneficiaries can also be Executors, as long as they are independent enough to make decisions in the best interests of everyone and not just to their own advantage. This could lead to disputes. Choosing the right people will mean that the estate is dealt with in the most efficient way.

Discussing your wishes with your Executors

Given the duties involved, it is advisable to check with the proposed Executors that they are prepared to take on the role. As your Executor is the person who ultimately relies on the contents of the Will to perform their role, it may well be appropriate to show them a copy, if they can keep it safe. As a minimum, they certainly need to know where the Will is kept.

The Will may be relatively uncomplicated, but in other cases, it may be helpful for the Executor to understand the reasons behind the decisions made.

Ensuring all assets in the estate are made clear

A key task for the Executor is to value the estate. To do this, they will need to know all the assets, including business interests, which make up the deceased’s estate less any debts owed, such as credit cards, loans and mortgages. Larger lifetime gifts made within seven years of death may also need to be included. The net valuation of the estate will determine whether Inheritance Tax is payable. If it is, the Executor will have to arrange payment.

Organising your affairs to assist the Executors

It is helpful to give thought as to how to make your Executor’s tasks easier. For example, the Executor might have to spend a good deal of time searching for documentation or even understanding if what they have found is complete.  As well as an up to date asset listing, the financial paperwork, including access codes for online accounts and contact details of banks, investment and pension managers, accountants and solicitors, must all be in order.

Contact our Wills and Probate Solicitors in London, Addlestone, Ashford, Chiswick, Surrey and Middlesex

Owen White & Catlin Solicitors has been providing private client legal services since 1921. Contact us using the online enquiry form or call us directly on one of our office numbers - our friendly staff are ready to help.

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