How do I choose an executor?

22nd November 2023Siobhan Rattigan-Smith2

Choosing an executor for your will is a crucial decision that requires careful consideration. An executor is responsible for managing your estate and ensuring that your wishes are carried out after your passing. To help you make an informed choice, this article will outline some essential considerations when selecting an executor for your will.

1. Trustworthiness

The most fundamental quality you should look for in an executor is trustworthiness. Your executor will have access to your financial information, assets, and confidential documents. It’s important to choose someone you can trust implicitly. This person should be honest, reliable, and have a strong sense of integrity.

2. Organisational Skills

An executor needs to be well organised. Managing an estate can be complex, involving tasks such as filing paperwork, paying bills, dealing with HMRC and financial institutions, and distributing assets. Your chosen executor should be capable of handling these administrative duties efficiently.

3. Legal and Financial Knowledge

While it’s not mandatory, it can be beneficial if your executor has a basic understanding of legal and financial matters. An executor with legal or financial expertise can navigate the complexities of the probate process more effectively.

4. Availability

Ensure that your chosen executor has the time to fulfill their duties. Administering an estate can be time consuming, and the process may take several months or even years depending on the complexity of the estate. If your executor is too busy with other commitments, it may lead to delays and complications.

Emotional availability is also important. There’s no rule that you must seek a person’s permission before naming them as an executor, but we recommend you confirm their willingness to take on this responsibility. Being an executor can be a significant commitment, and not everyone is prepared or eager to assume this role.

5. Conflict Resolution Skills

The executor may need to mediate disputes among beneficiaries. Having good conflict resolution skills can help prevent family conflicts and ensure that the distribution of your assets is carried out effectively.

6. Familiarity with Your Wishes

Your executor should be aware of your wishes and preferences. It’s helpful to have open and transparent communication with your chosen executor to make sure they understand your desires regarding asset distribution, funeral arrangements, and other important matters. Of course they will have your will to instruct them, but some aspects of administration can be made easier if your personal wishes are known, such as who should receive items of small value or whether your preference is for your property to be sold.

7. Think about Reserves

In your will, it’s advisable to name an alternate or backup executor in case your primary choice is unable or unwilling to serve. This ensures that your estate will be managed even if the initial executor is unavailable.

8. Professional Executors

In some cases, an estate or your wishes may be complex enough to consider appointing professional executors to handle your estate. Make sure you choose professionals who have the expertise and experience to manage the legal and financial aspects of an estate efficiently and who are suitably insured for the work. Remember that appointing a professional executor will come at a price though and ensure you have been properly advised of the likely cost to your estate of employing the services of a professional executor.

In conclusion, selecting the right executor for your will is a critical decision that requires careful thought. It’s essential to choose someone you trust implicitly, who is organised, and has the time and ability to fulfil their responsibilities. Open communication with your chosen executor and having a backup plan are also crucial to ensure that your wishes are carried out effectively and efficiently after your passing. By considering these factors you can make an informed choice that provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Siobhan Rattigan-Smith

After graduating from the University of Lincoln with a 2:1 in Law in 2014 Siobhan has dedicated herself to will writing as the head of the Society’s technical team. Siobhan is also the lead tutor for The College of Will Writing, teaching a handful of courses including our SWWEPP 4-day introductory course.


  • Graham Barney

    23rd November 2023 at 6:09 pm

    Excellent piece Siobhan.

    Are there “flyers” available and if so can they be white labled? I would expect a fee if so how much?


    • Manisha Chauhan

      22nd January 2024 at 12:33 pm

      Hi Graham, I am afraid we don’t have flyers available on this topic


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