How Many Executors are Needed for a Will?
You only need to appoint one Executor for your Will to be legally valid. You can choose to name more than one, but we recommend having no more than 4. Most people choose at least 2 Executors, so they know they’re covered if one of their Executors dies before them, or can’t take on the role for whatever reason.
However many you choose, all Executors will need to work together to carry out your final wishes. But even if there is more than one Executor, this doesn’t mean they’ll all be involved.
It might be that an Executor can’t take on the responsibility, or simply doesn’t want to. If this is the case, they must formally renounce (resign) their role. This is why it’s a good idea to choose more than one Executor.
What Does an Executor Do?
When you name someone as Executor in your Will, you give them the responsibility of handling your Estate (your property and any assets you own) when you die.
This usually includes:
- Notifying bank and utility providers about your death and closing any accounts
- Selling your house
- Pay debt, expenses and tax such as Inheritance Tax
- Collating and valuing your possessions
- Contacting Beneficiaries and distributing your Estate to them according to your Will
But being named in the Will doesn’t automatically give Executors the power to start administering your Estate straight away. They may need to apply for a Grant of Probate to get the legal right to do so.
If you’d like advice about any part of the Probate process, get in touch with our Probate Solicitors for a free initial discussion.
Who Can You Appoint as Executor?
In England and Wales, you can choose anyone you like as Executor of your Will. There are no rules around who this should be, but you should make sure you pick someone you trust, as it’s a very important responsibility.
Generally, people will choose:
- Family or friends
Losing a loved one can be a very emotional time, and you might want to bear this in mind when choosing family members or close friends as Executors.
Even if they accept the responsibility before you die, none of us can predict how we’ll react when the time comes, and many can find the role of Executor overwhelming.
If you’re choosing more than one relative as an Executor, make sure you pick wisely. Disagreements between Executors are sadly quite common, especially if they’re left with a complex Estate to deal with.
But don’t worry. If you decide later in life that you want to change who you appointed as Executor of your Will, you can update your Will.
Benefits of a Professional Executor
There are benefits to appointing a professional, such as a Probate Solicitor, as your Executor:
- It can reduce the risk of family disputes – A professional Executor can help to diffuse any conflict between other Executors, Beneficiaries and relatives by taking a neutral, unbiased position
- Expert advice and knowledge – Probate can get complicated, especially if you’re dealing with a large or particularly complex Estate
- Less emotional impact – Dealing with complicated paperwork is tough enough without the added emotional impact of losing a loved one, so appointing a professional to handle the work instead relieves your loved ones of the pressure
But there are also many reasons why you might want a loved one to be your Executor, and it can be comforting to know that someone close to you will be fulfilling your wishes after you die.
You might even choose to appoint both a professional Executor and a personal one. This can be a good option if you want to keep a loved one close to your affairs while an experienced professional handles the paperwork.
Appointing an Executor
Sometimes people don’t find out they’re an Executor of a Will until their loved one dies, but it can’t hurt to let your chosen Executors know your intentions before you die.
Asking people in advance gives you the opportunity to make sure that your Executor or Executors are happy to take on the responsibility, and means you can rest safe in the knowledge that your affairs will be handled by someone you trust.
It’s good practice to keep checking and updating your Will to make sure that it’s up to date. For example, if your chosen Executor dies before you or loses mental capacity, then you’ll need to rethink who you’d like to include as Executor in your Will.
Help from a Probate Solicitor
If you’ve recently lost a loved one you’re probably feeling a wealth of emotions. And if you’ve been named as Executor of their Will, you might be feeling especially overwhelmed.
Our experienced and empathetic Probate Solicitors can help take some of the pressure of your shoulders. We offer a Full Probate Service and a Grant of Probate Only Service, so can take on as much or as little of the Estate administration as you’d like us to.
If you’re the one making a Will and are looking to appoint a professional Executor, or you’d like any advice about choosing Executors for your Will, you might want to get in touch with our specialist Wills and Trusts Solicitors who will be happy to discuss your Will with you.
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