In your Will, you can appoint one or more people to act as executor to your estate following your death. This is one of the most important choices that you will make as your executors are the people who will ensure that your wishes are fulfilled in relation to the distribution of your estate.
Choosing someone that you trust to carry out this role is crucial, and this can be a family member or a friend, but it can also be useful to have someone independent act as executor especially if your assets are more complex and include business interests. In this case you can ask a professional such as your solicitor or accountant to act as executor. A professional can also help to guide a relative who is perhaps finding it hard to cope with the role of executor so soon after your death.
The role of executor also carries with it certain responsibilities and, at times, personal liability, especially if your estate is subject to inheritance tax. It is important to talk to the people you are intending to appoint to ensure they are happy to take on the role.
Executors have certain duties and must act in good faith at all times when administering your estate. It is their specific duty to put together a full inventory of your estate so that they can apply for Confirmation (the Scottish equivalent of Probate), report accurately to HM Revenue & Customs and pay any inheritance tax and income tax due on time, settle all your other debts and liabilities from the funds in your estate, ingather your estate and distribute your estate to your named beneficiaries. They must also produce an Executry Account to show what has happened to your estate in the course of the estate administration.
Executors are normally appointed in a Will and this is the preferred option for most people as they can specifically choose who is to be appointed. However, if you die without a Will, only certain people can be appointed by the court in a particular order of priority, depending on who in your family has survived you. This is not ideal as the person appointed by the court, may not be the person you would wish to act.
This is one of the many reasons it is vital that you consider making a Will, and then regularly reviewing it to make sure the people you have chosen to act as executor are still relevant.
If you would like to discuss this or any other issues in relation to your Will, please contact a member of the legal team at Paris Steele.