Choosing your Executors or Trustees
The appointment of Executors and Trustees demands careful consideration. Unsuitable appointments could lead to disruption in the administration of your estate or the management of a trust. In rarer circumstances, mismanagement could result in costly legal disputes, reducing the value of your estate or the trust property that is passed on to the
When looking at appointing an Executor or Trustee, it may help to follow these steps:
- Consider who to appoint – Think about all of the people you could appoint and what positive or negative points there may be to choosing them. Some of the potential considerations are detailed below.
- Discuss your intentions – Making your chosen Executors or Trustees aware of your intentions and discussing it with them can make their appointment much easier. Firstly, they will not be surprised when they are called to take on the role, but they may also make you aware of positive or negative points which you did not know about. It is worth noting that Executors are free to renounce their appointment in writing if they do so before taking any action in relation to your estate, so it’s worth checking with them first that they are happy to act.
- Arrange the formalities as soon as possible – An appointment will not take effect unless it is reflected in the right legal documentation. This step is vital in giving effect to your intentions. It could mean making a Will, changing an existing Will, making a trust deed or appointing a new Trustee to an existing trust.
Executors and Trustees
If you need to appoint both Executors and Trustees in your Will, it is common to appoint the same people to carry out both roles. This arrangement is often very practical and should not cause any difficulties. However, you could say that this makes your choice of who to appoint doubly important!
Who should I choose?
You should consider the personal qualities of the person you intend to appoint as an Executor or Trustee:
- Are they reliable and trustworthy?
- Do you think they would do a good job?
- Do they have the time, energy and skills to carry out the administrative duties and other obligations which the role entails?
Perhaps less obvious, but still an important consideration, is the relationship of your Executor or Trustee to the beneficiaries of your Will or trust. If they are not on good terms, or their appointment itself may cause discord, it may be preferable to appoint someone else to avoid the possibility of dispute. Alternatively, you could appoint a professional (e.g. a solicitor) instead of, or as well as your other Executor(s), to act as a neutral third party.
You should also consider the complexity of your estate or the trust. A large estate or trust, containing many valuable assets – perhaps with some in different countries – will often represent a much greater administrative challenge. In these situations, it may be advisable to appoint a professional Executor or Trustee to assist.
It is recommended to appoint at least two people to act as Executors and/or Trustees. This brings with it the added consideration of whether your chosen Executors or Trustees will be able to work together effectively.
An ongoing decision
As with any part of your Will, you should keep your choice of Executors (and Trustees if you have them) updated to reflect changes in your life. If your circumstances have changed, your choice may no longer be as suitable as when you first made it.
Some life events may also render your choice invalid. For example, if you appointed your spouse or civil partner as an Executor and your marriage or civil partnership is later annulled or dissolved, the appointment will no longer take effect.