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Legal Focus: Executors of a will

When preparing a will, I am often asked by clients what an executor is, and what they do when the time comes for a will to be read.

The executor/executors are the people appointed as the personal representatives of your estate after your death to collect the details of your assets, pay all debts (if any), and distribute your estate under the terms of your will. Anyone aged 18 or above can be an executor of your will, and it is important to choose your executors with care as the role involves a great deal of work and responsibility.

You can have up to four executors and most people have their surviving spouse and perhaps one or two family members initially. We always suggest appointing replacement executors to future-proof your wills, in the event of an executor passing away before you do.

A question frequently asked is whether or not an executor can also be a beneficiary. The answer to that is yes, an executor can also be a beneficiary of your estate, and in fact, this arrangement is quite common.

It is imperative that an executor is someone you trust, as it will be their responsibility to follow the instructions in your will and find fair solutions to any potential disagreements.

It is also important to think carefully before choosing your husband, wife or partner as your only executor. Bear in mind that they will be dealing with your death, so by naming someone else as an executor along with your spouse, you can at least take some of the burden off their shoulders at what will inevitably be a very emotional time.

For advice or support with this and any other matters, contact Heptonstalls on 0800 917 8267 or visit www.heptonstalls.co.uk

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