7 questions to ask yourself when choosing your executors
December 7, 2021
We find that many people making their wills don’t give much thought to who would be best suited to sort out their estate when they die. But choosing the wrong executors can lead to unpleasant family arguments, loss of trust and even costly litigation, making it an extremely important decision.
Most people choose their eldest child without considering whether they may be too busy with work or other commitments. Others choose all their children, which may cause problems if they can’t agree on certain decisions. These could include which solicitors to use, when and for what price the house should be sold, as well as several other potential issues.
We have dealt with a number of disputes where executors haven’t involved family members, or have different motives following the death of a parent.
In one particularly difficult case, a mother of five made a will leaving everything to be split equally between all her children. However, she appointed her two eldest sons as her executors; two men who had lived (rent-free) in her home for years. They had no incentive to sell the house, which was by far the biggest asset in her estate, leaving her three younger children with no choice but to resort to litigation, as well as having to seek a Court order to replace them as executors.
Some questions you should consider when choosing executors are:
- Who has the most time available?
- Are they local ensuring they can easily keep an eye on your house while it’s empty and collect post, pay bills, and so on?
- Are they organised and good at paperwork?
If they meet all those criteria, ask yourself (as objectively as you can):
- Do they have a good relationship with all their siblings? Will their siblings feel their views are being taken into account? The eldest child isn’t necessarily the best choice.
- Are they able to get the family together to organise the funeral, market the house, or split up the sentimental items?
- If you have a family with stepchildren or half siblings, would it be better to choose one person from each side so that they all feel fairly represented?
- Are there any reasons why they might not want to sell your house and share the proceeds with their siblings, as in the example above?
In most families, these issues don’t arise, but if they do they can be very expensive and destructive of family relationships. If you’ve given the question plenty of careful thought and still aren’t sure who to choose, you can always appoint your solicitors as your executors. We think it’s best to have your family involved if they are suitable, but we would be happy to act as executors if you felt it would save any possible unpleasantness. We don’t charge extra for acting as executors – just our usual fees for the time to administer your estate.
If you have any questions about who to choose as your executors, we are happy to help you consider all the possibilities when you make your will. For a free 15-minute consultation about making your will with us, please call Beth King on 020 8313 1300 or email her at email@example.com .
The information contained in this article is intended for general guidance only. It provides useful information but it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice as the articles do not take into account specific circumstances. So do please Contact US for legal advice on the issues raised.