Who should be my executor?

This is an extremely important decision since the office of executor is gratuitous and the duties imposed on an executor can be varied and sometimes onerous. Appointing a second executor is desirable since it covers a situation where one of the executors dies. It is important that the executor knows as much as possible about the deceased's affairs since without adequate knowledge assets can go untraced with the result that the estate is depleted with ultimate loss to the beneficiaries. A person will often make a close family member an executor since such a person is likely to have a very detailed and intimate knowledge of the deceased's affairs. Many people also appoint their solicitor as a second executor since the solicitor will also often have information on the deceased's affairs and will be able to render good advice to the other executor and assist in the processing of the Grant of Probate. A beneficiary can be and often is appointed as an executor. A beneficiary, however, should never be a witness to a Will since being a witness can invalidate the gift. Persons to be chosen as executors, therefore, should be trustworthy and capable and you should have confidence in their ability to carry out your wishes as expressed in your Will. They should also have a thorough knowledge of your affairs. Where a Will gives a gift to a person under the age of 18 years then trustees should be appointed to hold the gift for the person in question until he/she attains full age or such age as is designated in the Will. Executors and trustees can be the same persons. In other words, you can appoint the same two persons to act both as executors and trustees. When dealing with persons under the age of 18 years one must also consider the question of testamentary guardians. This situation can arise in the normal family arrangement where a parent wishes to provide for young children but wants to deal adequately with the situation should he/she die before the child or children reach full age. The appointment of a testamentary guardian can be the most important decision of all since asking someone to take care of your children on your death can be the most onerous request of all. You have to ask yourself the question who would look after my young children if I died. Naturally, very few people have a large choice in this matter and normally they would like to see their children reared together by a close relative. This would at least ensure that there was some chance that the children would be reared, preferably together and in a manner which would meet your approval. Executors and trustees can also be testamentary guardians. You can, therefore, appoint two people to do the entire job.