Whom should you choose to be your Executor, Trustee & Guardian of children? What are their duties?

The Executor’s role is to collect various assets of the estate and, where necessary, convert them into cash. After that, he distributes the assets among the beneficiaries according to the Will. When he/she does this, his/her role as an Executor evolves into that of a Trustee. For practical reasons, the same people are usually appointed to fulfill both roles.

The basic duties of Executor and Trustee are as follows –

  • Help to arrange for funeral.
  • Get the Will proven i.e. apply to the courts for the grant of probate so that the estate can be managed and run.
  • Identify what and where the assets are located, collect them in, and if necessary, convert them into money.
  • File tax returns and pay taxes, if any.
  • Check to see if there are any outstanding debts and pay them (including the costs of administering the estate).
  • Distribute the estate to the beneficiaries as mentioned in the Will.

The following should be considered when choosing your Executor and Trustee –

  • Person selected is trustworthy and competent.
  • Someone who is very close to you and has a strong positive feeling towards your family and other survivors e.g. family member, a close friend or business associate.
  • Selected Executor or Trustee must be over 21 years of age and is not a bankrupt.
  • Consider engaging a regulated Trust Company licensed by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to be the Executor and Trustee if your estate is complex or if you cannot find anyone suitable to perform the role of Executor. Individuals may die in the midst of administering your estate whereas a Trust Company, being a corporate entity, will not face this problem. Greater professionalism is demanded of a Trust Company than a lay-Executor as the Trust Company is required to have officers who have the necessary qualification and track record, requirements to have in place proper internal controls, audit and professional indemnity insurance.

Who will be the Guardian of my young children (below age 21)?

He/she will have the custody of your children and will be responsible for their support, health and education. On the death of a parent, the surviving parent shall be the guardian to the child either alone or jointly with any Guardian appointed by the deceased parent (testator). The appointment of a substitute Guardian is important in the event of simultaneous death of both you and your spouse due to a common disaster. Failing which, the court may select a Guardian who may not be your preferred choice.

The following factors should be considered when choosing a Guardian –

  • Guardian should have a similar cultural and social background and hold similar beliefs as you. In effect you are choosing someone who will act in a similar way as you and who can create a same positive influence over your children.
  • Guardian should be a matured adult (at least 21 years old) and able to make informed decisions regarding the children’s upbringing.
  • Guardian should be in good health, close to your age and have time to properly care for the children. Someone who lives close to you and your family members.

Choosing your Executor, Trustee and Guardian of your children may be the most important decisions when writing Will…

Will Writing

Trust Planning

Planned Giving

Illustrations