What Is The Role Of An Executor And A Trustee?

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When you’re looking into writing your will, you may come across some familiar terms including ‘Executor’ and ‘Trustee’. Though you might be familiar with them, it can be difficult to understand exactly what their role is. So while they’re a necessary part of the process, exactly what is the role of an Executor and a Trustee?

What Does An Executor Do?

Executors are people you choose to carry out the instructions you’ve left in your will after you die. While you can name up to four people to act as ‘Executor’ of your estate, who you choose is up to you, as long as they’re aged 18 or over, with friends, family, or colleagues are all common choices.

Much depends on your circumstances and the instructions you leave. But even if your will is quite straightforward, being an Executor can be a complicated role. It involves a lot of work and responsibility with key duties including:

  • Registering your death and making funeral arrangements
  • Notifying institutions such as banks, insurance and mortgage companies
  • Calculating and paying any outstanding debts, expenses, or taxes owed
  • Contacting all beneficiaries of the will (including finding any long lost or missing beneficiaries)

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it does give you an idea of the involvement Executors must have throughout the process. Taking into account the more in-depth requirement of the legal and financial aspects, administration of any Estate can last up to around 12 months to complete.

What Does A Trustee Do?

Trustees will only be required and appointed if you specify that any part of your estate should go into Trust. Trustees are then responsible for the assets in that Trust on behalf of those named in the will (the Beneficiaries).

All Trusts work in slightly different ways, but their main purpose is to protect certain assets, both property and financial, as well as the chosen beneficiaries. Depending on the type of Trust, the role of your chosen Trustee will differ. But they must act on the terms of the Trust, be impartial, and act in a fair and reasonable way to the beneficiaries.

While Trusts, including Family Property Probate Trust (FPPT), Flexible Family Trust, and Discretionary Trusts, may differ, many of the Trustee’s main duties will be similar, including:

  • Understanding the Trusts assets and managing them efficiently
  • Keeping records of Trust matters and storing them safely and securely
  • Reviewing Trust finances or investments on an annual basis
  • Ensuring any taxes owed are paid

Again, this is not an exhaustive list of duties and responsibilities, but it should help you understand what’s involved.

What Is The Role Of An Executor And A Trustee?

Both Executors and Trustees have a duty to act in the best interests of both you and the instructions set out in your will, and your beneficiaries, but the roles have many differences. Your Executor(s) will make sure instructions are carried out in accordance with your wishes and dealt with appropriately after your death. Your Trustee(s) will have a long term role which can last for many years, potentially decades, managing ongoing matters of finance and administration for Trust beneficiaries.

While both roles are put in place by you as part of your will, you can also create a legal Lasting Power of Attorney at any time. This allows you to appoint one or more ‘attorneys’ who can help you make decisions, or make decisions on your behalf, during your lifetime, giving you more control if you suffer an accident or illness which could leave you unable to make decisions yourself.

Expert Advice

While all these matters are important, they can be confusing. But when you need any help with your will and all that’s involved, or you just need more information on what the role of an Executor and Trustee is, contact us today.

We’ll give you all the advice you need, answer your questions, and make the process easier for you to understand. Call us today on 0208 568 9602 or email us at enquiries@willpowergroup.com to book an appointment with us.