Selecting An Executor

Your English or Welsh Last Will and Testament presents the only opportunity you will get to select who you believe will do the best job of sorting out your estate in alignment with your wishes.  A person you select for this duty would be known as an executor (male) or executrix (female) and sometimes you will come across the term personal representative which is used more within the legal profession.

Being an executor is a fundamental role; they are the people that are responsible for making certain your hopes detailed in your Last Will and Testament transform from words on paper into the real-world reality; which makes it a considerably important role. So be warned; the right selection may could mean everything turning out just right.  The wrong choice could result in a complete mess, filled with unforeseen hindrances and charges to the estate. It is thereby essential to choose wisely and take the time to get it right.

In England and Wales you have the liberty to assign any person or professional organization you desire to carry out the role as your executor.  You might select someone who is going to be an inheritor under your English or Welsh Last Will and Testament; however, it is not a requirement under the law that they inherit anything; they could just as easily be a non-inheritor.  Should you be selecting a person; they could be a friend, a spouse, immediate family or a relative. 

For an executor you could choose a professional organization; possibly a local or national bank, building society, a trustee firm, a Public Trustee, a local or national solicitors firm or a firm of accountants.  What ever organisation you choose they need to be specialists who understand the laws for probate in England and Wales.  It is these laws that govern the procedure and process for administering a person’s property associated with their English and Welsh Last Will and Testament.                          

The selection of who to choose is up to you.   Scores of people often decide on her or his husband or wife or civil partner, a grown-up child or a best friend as her or his executor.         Should the estate be going in whole to your partner, civil partner or a spouse and it is a relatively small and simple estate to manage; then, it is usually sensible and simpler to allocate that heir as the sole executor.

When selecting an executor; it would ordinarily be of benefit to decide upon a person you have chosen as an heir within your Last Will and Testament.  This is because for a beneficiary there is an obvious benefit and reward for them which makes adequate recompense for their time and effort involved in sorting out your financial affairs and the worldly possessions contained within your estate.  Thus; completing the directions within your Last Will and Testament and settling all matters quickly and promptly will be in their best interests and yours.

Pondering on the qualities the go towards making a faultless executor; firstly, they need the obvious basics of being literate and numerate.  More qualities you would want in an executor is for them to be trustworthy, level headed, have integrity and for them to be keen to undertake the duty.  Although these are traits you would look for in an executor they are not indicators that the executor would not make mistakes when arranging your financial estate.  So you also require that they are capable and competent individuals up to the function with superior organizational skills, good with money and not fearful of effort and work.  You wouldn’t want someone who is going to feel daunted by the responsibility so judge whether you are expecting too much from them.

There are practicalities to consider when deciding upon your executor; for instance, it makes perfect sense to pick someone who lives in with you or near to where you live.  This will make it far easier when dealing with all the property, paperwork and institutions necessary as most of these will often be at or close to your residence.  Somebody who is likely to have the availability of time to undertake the role is important as well.  Matters need to be dealt with accurately and properly in order to do the duty justice.  Anyone rushing this duty due to a lack of time could incur oversights, mistakes and slap dash results all of which could lead to financial losses, complications and arguments.

An older retired person could offer an advantage by way of the availability of time.  Also their wisdom is an added bonus and perhaps they have already got the experience of acting as an executor or executrix too.  The only draw back is that being older they may meet their maker before you and you would need to reselect a replacement executor.                                                                                                  

As well as the practicalities to consider there is also the issue of the proposed executor being competent and capable enough to fulfil the duty and carry out all the tasks required in sorting out your worldly estate.  For instance; if you are intending on picking a loved one or a relative they need to be good at doing administrative tasks as this forms a large portion of what is required when undertaking the probate duties of an executor.  Another example would be that you own an English or Welsh company.  Understanding England and Welsh company legalities, finances and responsibilities could be daunting for the lay person so it would be wise that the executor had experience in running their own business within England & Wales.  What if you have investments such as shares?  Would they know how to sell them or would they be knowledge able enough to make the decision on whether to delay the sale to possibly increase the inheritance?   Everybody’s financial set up and arrangements are unique and specific to them; thus, the areas of knowledge and experience that would be a useful and prudent requirement to have in an executor are those best tailored to fit in with your circumstances.

Now that you have thought about the basic practicalities, experience and knowledge that is required of an executor you can start to judge who amongst the people you know would be best suited and who would find some of the chores a struggle.  It would be sensible to discuss your thoughts with your family and possible executors to arrange the most advantageous solution and ensure all the boxes are checked in relation to the probate tasks that need to be done.  Establish what areas and items they are keen to do and are capable of doing and what they would not want to do or are not capable of.

Having looked through your pool of family, relatives and friends for potential executors and having discussed it with some of them; it could be apparent that after pondering on the resultant options on who you could choose, there is insufficient resource available to meet all your desired requirements.  In this case you have the freedom to increase the available resources by gaining the aid of professionals; England or Welsh companies that have the expertise and manpower at their finger tips.

From time to time it is likely that you will need to go through the selection of the executors again.  Life is continuously changing and there are various changes in life that occur that can cause the reselection of executors to be necessary.  If your executor is an inheritor under your Last Will and Testament and then you take them out of the list of beneficiaries it is unlikely then that they would still be so interested in sorting out your estate.  This might happen due to a financial loss in the value of the estate or maybe you have an irreparable falling out over something

As the years pass those chosen in your initial selection could feasibly become too ill to undertake the duty, this is something that on probability becomes in increasingly likely with age.  Perhaps they are rendered too frail or become mentally unsound.  In the worst instance unfortunately people die.  Maybe someone selected relocates and moves away making the task too impractical.  It will be good manners to inform the redundant executor of your decision.  Regretfully they might be disappointed by your choice or maybe elated and relieved that they will not have to let you down.  Either way at least they can relax in the knowledge that they won’t be called upon.                  

If you’re in the situation where there is no one you know to call upon to be an executor then through Parliament an organisation was set up called ‘The Public Trustee’ who can be named to take on the duty.  They were set up specially for people in this situation.  They can not undertake the duty if they are required to run a company; nor can they deal with a charitable trust.  They do charge fees for their services.


Executor Selection Rules.
Appointing Multiple Executors.
Appoint Guardian.
Undue Influence
Inheritance Tax
Sound & Unsound Mind
Choosing The Right Person To Be Executor.
Why Have Multiple Executors?
Appointing An Executor.
Rules Surrounding Guardianship
Selecting Your Guardian
Automatic Guardianship
Parental Responsibility
Changing Guardianship
Money For Child And Guardian