9. I don’t have many close relatives. Can I appoint a friend or an institution, e.g. an NGO, to be the executor of my will? If yes, what should I do / prepare to make such an arrangement?
You can appoint a friend to be the executor, but there are generally a few requirements applicable for an individual to be appointed an executor. The friend cannot be appointed as an executor if he:
- Is under 21 years old;
- suffers from mental/ severe physical disability to the extent that renders him incapable of managing his own affairs; or
- in prison.
The Court generally views that an insolvent person is less desirable to be appointed an executor.
NGO: An NGO may be appointed executor if it is:
A trust corporation:
- a corporation appointed by the court in any particular case to be a trustee (if authorised by its constitution to act as trustee); and
- any trust company registered under the Trustee Ordinance ( 29), it may be appointed executor; or
- a firm (The appointment will typically be considered valid for those individuals who were partners in the firm at the time the will was executed, rather than at the time of the testator's death.).
The designated executor always has the option to renounce. Therefore, a testator may ask the proposed executor in advance to see whether he or she is willing to act. A testator should inquire the friend’s age, expertise in administering the estate and whether the friend has conflicts of interests e.g. if the friend is also a beneficiary.
A testator may contact the in-house lawyer of the NGO and inquire if the NGO is willing to act as an executor. To ensure that the appointment is valid and acceptable, it is best practice to incorporate the relevant standard terms and conditions of a trust corporation into the will.