Your executors are the people you appoint in your will to administer your estate and make sure that the terms of your will are carried out (see What is an executor? for a full explanation of the role).
Having an understanding of exactly what the role entails may also help you to decide who to appoint. Our Choosing an executor page goes through some of the factors you may wish to consider when making the decision, and discusses some of the common choices. While it is important that your executor is someone your trust to do the job, if your executor has an overseas connection this may cause some complications.
No matter how firm the intention is when you make your will, appointing an executor is not necessarily binding. There may be many reasons why an executor is not able to take up the role, and so it is often a good idea to appoint more than one executor, or substitute executors, in your will.
You can change your mind about your choice of executors. You can remove an executor from your will at any time using a codicil, and you don't have to have any particular reason for doing so. After your death it is possible for your beneficiaries to apply to have the executor removed if they are incapable of doing their job.
Acting as an executor can be time-consuming, and is a serious responsibility.
So you should discuss being an executor with anyone you are considering appointing. This section is designed to be a helpful starting point for such a discussion by explaining the core duties and responsibilities of being an executor (see Duties of an executor for more information). Then you can be sure that they are willing to take on the role. You cannot compel someone to act as your executor, which makes discussing your choice with them all the more important.
And when you have made your will, and it has been signed and witnessed, then you should confirm that to them. We’ve got some specific advice on how to notify executors of their appointment and the location of your will, as this may help to simplify their task after your death.
(If a term is in bold, that means it's in our Glossary.)
An executor, or personal representative, is someone you appoint to carry out the terms of your will.
Your executors have a range of duties to carry out in administering your estate.
Executors and trustees have different duties and responsibilities even if they are the same people.
Choose an executor you can rely on to carry out the terms of your will.
Even once an executor is appointed they can still stand down or be unable to act.
Removing an executor during your lifetime is easy. After your death, it becomes more complicated.
Tell your executors about their appointment and where your will is located.
Choosing executors or witnesses who are based overseas may cause problems later.