A reluctance to face one’s own mortality is a common reason we hear from clients when they are explaining why it has taken them so long to get around to putting a Will in place. There is often a palpable sense of relief for them once they have signed off on the final version of their Will, with thoughts such as “I can put it away and never think about it again” being extremely common. However, as with all things, it is never quite that simple and, although you may be rightly reassured by having a valid Will in place, it is important that you keep your Will under review periodically to ensure that it is up-to-date. Over the years, there will typically be changes in family circumstances – births, marriages, deaths, divorces – all of which may impact upon the terms of your Will. One particular aspect (although there are others, of course) worth keeping under review is who you have appointed as your Executors.
The importance of an Executor’s role cannot be underestimated and there are many responsibilities attaching to the role; for more information see our blog “The 5 main responsibilities of an Executor”.
Ideally, for the purposes of continuity, you may wish to consider appointing Executors who are either of similar age to you, or younger, so that there is a greater likelihood of them being in a position to act when you die.
It may be that you have family members or friends who have undertaken the role of an Executor before and therefore know what to expect. If your circumstances are such that you cannot think of anyone who it may be appropriate to appoint you may wish to consider using the firm’s “trustee company” to take on the role of Executor.
There is no limit to the number of Executors that you can appoint. You may certainly wish to consider appointing more than one Executor though because, if you simply appoint a sole Executor to act without a back-up provision (see below), and that person is unable to act, for instance if they become incapable through incapacity or they predecease you, then your estate administration will be less straightforward than it otherwise would be.
From a practical estate administration point of view, it would not be prudent to appoint too many Executors as this can cause delays when decisions need to be made and documents have to be circulated and signed when dealing with the estate.
You may also wish to consider the possibility of a “back-up” Executor; someone who you would wish to act in the event of an appointed Executor being unable to act and ensuring that the estate is not left without an Executor.
What if there is no Executor?
If the circumstances of your estate are such that the Executor you have appointed in your Will has predeceased you, and your Will does not make any provision for either a joint or back-up Executor to act, it is still possible for someone to be appointed to act as your Executor. This may, for example, be someone who is entitled to a share of the “residue” of your estate. In these circumstances, we would always recommend seeking professional advice to assist with the estate administration. The simplest way, however, to avoid additional cost and delays when it comes to dealing with the estate administration is to keep your Will under review so as to ensure that your appointed Executors are as up-to-date as they can be.
If you require assistance to put a Will in place, amend your existing Will, or if you require help with an Executry Estate administration please contact our Private Client Team who will be happy to help.