A very good question.
Who you choose as your executor is very important, as they will be the person that manages your estate after you’ve gone. They’ve got a lot of duties and responsibilities, and failing to do their job properly can land them in a lot of trouble.
So you should consider carefully who you want to do this job and choose someone who is willing and able to take on this important role.
Here are some tips you should think about before deciding:
- Name more than one executor – what if the one you name dies before you or chooses not to act? It’s important you have back-up executors who can take on the role if the previously named executors cannot or will not act.
- Ask your intended executors if they feel comfortable with taking on this task – discuss it with them and give them time to decide.
- Consider naming someone younger than you – because if you die at an old age, it’s quite possible that someone older than you or of a similar age to you may also not be alive at that time.
- Consider naming someone who wouldn’t want to be paid or seek commission for doing the job – or if you do want your executor to be paid or receive a benefit for taking on the job, then put this in your will.
- Name executors who will likely get on well together. Administration of your estate will have a better chance of success if your executors respect each other and can communicate comfortably and effectively.
- If you want to name a young person as a beneficiary, and also want them to be your executor, consider not letting them act as your executor (and in particular as your trustee) until they reach the age you wish them to attain before being able to inherit. For example, a person can lawfully be an executor at the age of 18, but if you won’t let them inherit until they are 21, then potentially there are three years where they are going to be in difficult position. It can be a conflicting position for someone to manage their inheritance, but not have full discretion to use the funds until they are older.
- Think about what you are asking your executors to do. For example, if you want them to allow someone to live in your home rent-free for a certain period of time, hold money in trust for a vulnerable or at-risk beneficiary, or to use their discretion, consider the potential difficulties or burden that could be placed on them. How is their relationship with the beneficiary, will this cause issues, does your executor have the time and skills to do his job?
- If you and your partner or spouse are both doing wills, consider naming people from both sides of the family to be your executors. Couples and spouses usually give the majority of their assets to each other upon death, and when it’s the last person to go, that person’s will usually deals with assets that belonged to both of you and might give assets to relatives or friends of both of you too. Having someone from both sides can allow for smoother administration of your estate.
- Consider naming an independent person or trustee company as your executor. Perhaps you want someone from outside of the family, or maybe someone who is less likely to “take sides” or be drawn into family issues.
- Consider naming someone who has an interest in the matter and who is likely to do a good job and in a timely manner. Yes, beneficiaries can be executors, and in many cases they’re the most appropriate persons to name, because the better they do their job as your executors, the better off they might be as beneficiaries!
- Use your executor’s correct and full legal name plus at least one or more other identifiers. For example, you should refer to your executor as, for example, “my sister Jane Helen Smith” or “my friend James Thomas Jones of 123 Turner Street, Freeman Valley SA”. For example, simply naming “Jane Smith” or “James Jones” as your executor is not clear and can cause issues later on.
There is a lot to think about when making a will, even when only deciding one aspect – that of who to name as your executors.
We ask all the good questions and can give you plenty to think about and consider so that you can make the most appropriate decision. Call us now on 8213 1000 to arrange an appointment to prepare your will.