Who to choose as the executor of your will?
An executor is the person who is appointed by the Master of the High Court to ensure that your deceased estate is administered according to your wishes and is carried out in terms of the laws of South Africa. The person will be responsible for reporting the estate, closing of all accounts, settling of all debt and ensuring that all assets are distributed.
Your assets will be distributed according to the clauses contained in your will or alternatively, if no will was signed, any person deemed fit by the Master of the High Court.
Often clients prefer to appoint a spouse, a child or a close family member or friend to be appointed as executor, but choosing the person to fulfil this position is more important than just appointing a person out of duty or emotional conviction. It is important to understand the functions of the Executor in order to make an informed decision.
- Your executor will have to comply with various legislative requirements to wind down your estate. A person with some experience in estates will be beneficial but should you appoint a person with no experience they can in turn appoint a person who has the necessary experience to assist them.
- Your executor’s age and health might impact the person you choose as executor. Preferably your executor must outlive you and preference should be given to a person who is from your peer group or younger.
- You know your family better than anyone. If your family dynamics are such that choosing a family member will create strife and conflict, it might be better to appoint an independent third party who will be able to handle a hard-headed family member.
- Discuss the possible appointment of your executor with the relevant party and enquire whether they will be willing to accept the appointment at that stage. Also, as the executor will need to be available to carry out the various duties required to wind up the estate the person you select should be available and have the extra time to dedicate to this position.
- As an executor is responsible for paying your debts, lodging a summary of your assets and liabilities with the master (a liquidation and distribution account) managing your assets and distributing inheritances, it is better to choose a person with at least some financial experience. Although financial experience is not a formal requirement for the position of executor, it will ease the duties of such a person if they do understand the basics.
Should you require assistance with the drafting of your will and appointment of your executor, you can contact our office at (021) 824 2024 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.