Don’t Ask Friends/Family to be Your Executor, Unless …

As the team member assigned to write this piece, I asked Now Sorted’s founder his views on whether or not to accept becoming an Executor of an estate. He told us that he had declined an invitation from his dear brother some years ago and would lean that way towards a request from anyone else in the future. I asked him why?

He said people often invited a friend or family member to be the Executor of their estate as though they were bestowing an honour and a privilege. Many a friend or family member accepted the invitation on that basis. And it all goes swimmingly well until the person who made the Will (the testator) passes on; it’s only then that the Executor realises the enormity of the task they innocently accepted.

An executor is a person appointed in a Will to act in respect of the estate of the person making the Will upon his or her death. In this way, an executor is the legal representative of a deceased person. We are talking here about a crucial aspect of estate planning – make no mistake, it is a serious responsibility.

As one commentator put it, “If you are not fully familiar with the responsibilities of an Executor, it will probably be the most stressful experience you’ll ever have”.

Why? Well, first of all, depending on the complexity of the estate (and few are simple), there are many steps that need to be taken between the death of the testator and obtaining probate (wherein a court determines that the Will is genuine); following probate there are further steps to be taken before the estate can be distributed to beneficiaries. So, being an Executor usually takes up a lot of time.

Then, of course, there are the human factors to consider: argumentative family members; competing beneficiaries; assets that are hard to find and quantify; further complications if a business is part of the equation; and, where relevant, care of children if involved.  In short, an Executor can find him/herself in the middle of conflict even while trying to do the right thing by the friend/relative who is no longer around. And, on top of these, the Executor has serious legal liabilities to consider.

What’s the solution? Either decline the invitation to become an Executor or, if you do accept, make sure you get professional help.

It was in light of these realities, our founder said, that Now Sorted forged a relationship with the Topdocs organisation. They are professionals in the field of providing legal assistance and advice, especially in areas related to estate planning.

You can obtain help in the area of Executor responsibilities – and estate planning in general – by clicking the Topdocs link here.

And Topdocs provide a brief overview on the role of an Executor in this easy-to-read document.

As always, we’d love to have your feedback on this innovative service.

Prepared for you by the team at Now Sorted.