It’s flattering if a friend asks you to be an executor for their will. It shows that they trust you. (It probably also means that you will be inheriting something.)
But. Do you know what you are taking on?
It is a huge responsibility with legal strings attached. It may take up a year or more of your life.
When a person dies there are several practical things you have to do immediately, such as making sure their property is safe. In the longer term, the detailed paperwork takes over.
According to the charity Age UK there are four things an executor does:
- They make sure all the property owned by the person who’s died is secure, as soon as possible after the death.
- They collect all assets and money due to the estate of the person who’s died (including property).
- They pay any outstanding taxes and debts (out of the estate).
- They distribute the estate to the people who are entitled to it under the terms of the will.
Pause a moment, without the will writer there to ask, would you know where to start to collect all the assets and money?
Imagine they go away on holiday somewhere without a mobile signal or internet and they leave you to run their finances for a fortnight and you risk a fine if you get it wrong. Being an executor is sort of like that, but under much more challenging circumstances.
If you have agreed to be someone’s executor and haven’t sat down with them to learn how they run their financial life, would it be worth picking up a notebook, some tea bags and biscuits, and heading round to knock on their door?