A recent article in a national tabloid highlights the need to check to see who you have appointed as an executor in your Will warns Malcolm Emery, Partner in the private client team.

Appointing a bank as sole executor 

According to a national tabloid, it is estimated that in the last 20 years, 1.5m individuals have put Wills in place which appoint a bank as the sole executor of their estate.  Anyone who is appointed as the sole executor is responsible for dealing with the administration of the estate, which means they must collect in the assets, pay off any debts or liabilities and distribute what is left in accordance with the Will.  As a professional, a bank will charge for this service, which the national newspaper says will be by reference to a percentage of the value of the estate (typically 2.5%).

The pros and cons of having a professional executor 

Although stories like this are commonplace, there are many benefits of appointing a professional as one of your executors.  The professional does not need to be appointed as the only executor.  You could appoint a professional to act with one or more family members or friends.

It is recommended that you have a minimum of two executors, but no more than four.  You can also appoint replacement executors in your Will so if your main executors are unable to act, your replacement executors can step in instead.

There are many benefits in appointing a professional to act, but many clients are worried about the cost of doing so.  Whilst it is impossible to give an accurate estimate of the costs at the time the Will is drafted, any reputable firm will provide a full description of the work that is required at the time of death, including a breakdown of the work required and the anticipated costs, which will be calculated on a time spent basis by reference to the solicitor’s hourly charge out rate.

Choosing your executor and other practicalities 

  • If you do not have a Will in place you should put one in place without delay. Without a Will your estate may not pass to your intended beneficiaries and may also give rise to unnecessary tax liabilities.  If you have already put a Will in place you should review it to ensure that it still meets your requirements, including whether your choice of executors is still appropriate.
  • Consider your executors carefully – you can have have up to four although in most cases there are two.
  • Anyone aged 18 or above can be an executor of your will.
  • If there’s someone in your family who you think will be well suited to being an executor , it can be a good idea to have them as an executor.
  • You can choose a solicitor as one of your executors especially if your family situation or sorting things out may be tricky.
  • If the financial side of your will is especially complicated, it could be a good idea to choose a bank or accountant as one of your executors but there will be a charge.
  • If you leave something to a person in your will, they can still be your executor – but they can’t be one of your will’s official witnesses.

Malcolm Emery is a dual qualified solicitor and chartered tax adviser and previously worked for HMRC.  Malcolm works in the Stephens Scown private client team and has extensive experience of dealing with professionally drafted Will.  To speak to Malcolm telephone 01392 429240, or email m.emery@stephens-scown.co.uk.