Three people sitting on a will

What is an executor of a will and how do you appoint them?

One of the most important parts of writing a will is choosing your executors. Here, we’ll cover who can be an executor, what they do and why they’re so important.

Contents
  1. What is an executor of a will?
  2. What do my executors have to do when I die?
  3. What powers do the executors of my will have?
  4. How many executors do I need to appoint when I write a will?
  5. Can an executor also be a beneficiary of my estate?
  6. 3 things to think about before choosing executors of your will
  7. How to appoint executors of your will

Our online will writing service is designed to help people in the UK write a will in just 15 minutes. And as part of this process, you’ll need to appoint executors of your will. If you know who you want to choose in advance, it will only take you a few minutes to fill out this section, so we’ve created this quick guide to help you work out the best people for the job.

What is an executor of a will?

An executor of a will is somebody you nominate to carry out the wishes left in your will. They could be a friend, family member or a professional – the most important thing is that they feel comfortable and confident administering your estate.

What do my executors have to do when I die?

The first thing your executors need to do is find your will, so it’s important you tell them where it’s kept after you’ve printed and signed it alongside two witnesses. If it’s needed, they’ll then be responsible for applying for probate so they can follow the wishes you set out in your will.

Your executors are also responsible for dealing with your estate. This may include closing your bank accounts, paying off any debts, and selling or transferring property so they can share everything out between your beneficiaries. Alternatively, your executors may choose a professional to handle the estate administration on their behalf.

If you’re dealing with a bereavement and need help with probate, you can find out about our fixed-price probate service here.

What powers do the executors of my will have?

Executors are given some powers under the laws of England and Wales, but it is common for solicitors and will writing professionals to include additional provisions in wills they provide.

When you write a will using our online will writing service, it will include a set of general provisions. These have been professionally drafted and approved by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), a global professional association that promotes high professional standards in this area of law.

How many executors do I need to appoint when I write a will?

You need to appoint at least one executor of your will – but you can choose up to four people or professionals. If you’re choosing friends and family, it’s recommended that you appoint at least two executors. This is because there are certain limitations for sole executors that don’t apply to professionals.

Can an executor also be a beneficiary of my estate?

Yes, any of your beneficiaries can also act as your executor, as long as they’re over 18 years old. This can be useful if you’re sharing your estate between your children and want to make your oldest child an executor.

3 things to think about before choosing executors of your will

1. The amount of work involved

The first thing to think about when choosing your executors is the amount of work involved. If your estate is relatively small and doesn’t require the sale of any property, a financially-savvy friend or family member may be comfortable acting as an executor. But if the situation is more complex and requires the sale and distribution of property, you may be better off choosing a professional executor service.

2. How they’ll feel after your death

Another thing to consider is whether the people you choose will appreciate having to deal with your estate. Between dealing with grief and planning your funeral, being an executor of a will can feel like an unwelcome burden to some people, so it’s important to bear this in mind when appointing executors in your will.

3. How much it will cost

If you choose to appoint a professional executor service, there will be a fee involved for them to deal with your estate. Traditionally, this is either worked out as an hourly rate or on a percentage basis – sometimes even a combination of the two. So if your estate is worth £500,000 at the time of your death, this could end up costing £20,000.

We understand that people like knowing exactly what things are going to cost upfront, so we created a more transparent executor service called Farewill Trustees. Rather than working on a percentage or hourly rate basis, we charge between £1,000 and £2,750 depending on the complexity of your estate. This is always quoted upfront, so you know exactly how much this will cost in advance.

How to appoint executors of your will

When you write a will with our online will writing service, appointing your executors is easy. Whether you choose friends, family, Farewill Trustees or a combination of all three, you can do so in just a few clicks.

After you’ve finished your will, our experts will check it over within 5 days to make sure your wishes are clear. Then you’ll be able to print it, sign it alongside two witnesses and put it away somewhere safe knowing that your estate is in good hands when you’re gone.

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