Who should be appointed as an executor?

Being an executor is an important and sometimes demanding responsibility, so it is vital you choose yours with care.

It is often a good idea to talk to anyone you’re thinking of appointing before you write your will to make sure they have a fair understanding of what will be expected of them and they are happy to take on this role. If they are not willing, they will have the right to refuse the responsibility when the time comes, so it makes sense to get their permission in advance.

Who can be an executor?

  • You can appoint anyone to be your executor. However they won’t be permitted to carry out the role after your death if they are under the age of 18, mentally unsound, or if you have divorced them after making the will. They may not be able to carry out the role if they are bankrupt or in prison.
  • There is no rule against your executors also being beneficiaries, so by using a close family member or friend it doesn’t mean you have to write them out of your will.

A good executor could be someone:

  • You trust to follow the instructions you make in your will.
  • Who’s organised and good at paperwork.
  • Willing to take on the role.
  • Able to cope (emotionally and mentally) with the responsibility so soon after your death.
  • With experience of managing legal issues, although this is not essential because legal advice can always be sought (at the expense of the estate) if needed.
  • Who’s likely to be around after your death, so someone who’s probably younger than you are.

Who to choose

The most common choices for executors are family members. In 2012 the Legal Services Board published some research which showed who people had appointed as their executors. And this is what they found:

Relationship of chosen executorsPercentage of survey
Child36%
Partner34%
Other family member32%
Friend13%
Will writer12%
Parent7%

You could also consider using the paid services of a professional adviser, such as a will writer or solicitor, but this is not a necessity. In recent years there has been some controversy in the legal industry over excessive probate charges.

At the end of the day who you choose as your executors is completely up to you and if you change your mind at a later date you can always change your will to reflect this. It is an important decision to make and one you need to feel comfortable with.