How to choose an executor for your estate

User Written by Cindy-Marie Leicester on October 23, 2015.

How to choose an executor for your estate

The executor of a will is the appointed person that ties up all the loose ends when you die. I went into detail about this in yesterday’s post where I outlined all the various duties and responsibilities of an executor. You are free to choose who you like to do this job (as long as they are over 18) but you need to choose with care as it is a big responsibility.

Even with a straightforward situation and very clear instructions it can take months for an estate to be wound up. In more complicated scenarios, the role may involve selling property in order for legacies to be honoured, dealing with trusts and even settling disputes. Sadly, with an increasing number of non-nuclear families including step-parents, step-children and half-siblings, the possibility of arguments over legacies after a death is ever-present.

A good executor will have the following qualities:

1. Financial know-how

While they don’t need to be an expert in tax, it is useful to choose someone with a reasonable amount of financial nous who will be comfortable dealing with banks, tax authorities and lawyers.

2. Honesty

Having someone you trust is key – your executor will need to make decisions which are in the interest of all beneficiaries, not just themselves.

3. Diplomacy

The executor of your choice will be responsible for breaking the news to your family and loved ones of who will get what from your estate. Hopefully everyone will be happy with their lot but there could be some surprises and your executor will have to deal with them with tact in order to keep family relationships harmonious.

4. Administrative skills

Don’t underestimate the amount of paperwork involved in winding up an estate. For this reason it is a job best done by someone who is organised and skilled at administrative tasks. If your beloved brother is the kind of person who casts bank statements and bills into an unopened pile then they are probably not the ideal choice. Most bereaved families want to get their loved ones estate sorted as soon as possible as this aids the grieving process so select someone who you think will get on with the task in hand speedily and efficiently.

5. The ability to work as a team

It is common to nominate more than one executor and it can be a good idea for the sake of balance but make sure you choose two people who are not going to be at loggerheads with each other and will be happy to act as a cohesive team.

When you have chosen who you would like to be your executor or executors it is only courteous to let them know and make sure they are happy to fulfil the role. If they are not they can refuse the role after your death causing unnecessary complications.

You can make life easier for whoever you choose by making a comprehensive list of your liabilities and assets. Our downloadable form is invaluable for this.