Executors of a Will

Published / Last Updated on 13/05/2021

Executors of a will

An executor is the official term for someone named within a person's Will to deal with the estate upon their death.

An executor will generally deal with all of the finances for the estate, together with the day to day running and administration until all the bills are paid, all money owed is collected and the estate has been distributed in accordance with the deceased person's wishes.

You can appoint anyone, generally over the age of 18, to act as Executor such as a friend, relative or even a finance related professional such as a financial adviser, accountant or solicitor.

Be aware that most professionals will charge a fee to look after and administer your Will and estate.

2. Duties of an Executor

Once the Will has been found and checked that it is legal the executor appointed in the Will needs to be asked if he/she is happy to remain as an executor.  (2 months are allowed from date of death to resign as an executor).

At the exact point of death the executor named in the Will (assuming they are happy to be the executor) has all power over the estate.

The law holds executors personally responsible for dealings with the estate and they have to undertake certain tasks in a specific order - generally as follows:

  • Locate all of the paperwork/documentation (including assets and liabilities).
  • Inform all debtors and creditors of the death.
  • Contact the deceased's local Inspector of Taxes.
  • The estate should now be valued so that the Inheritance Tax bill can be calculated.
  • Advise the Department of Social Security and any other Government or Local Authority body of the death - if relevant.
  • Make a list of outstanding debts (creditors) so that they can be told that they will be paid once probate has been obtained.
  • Consider employing a professional person e.g.  a Solicitor to obtain the forms needed to apply for probate from the Probate Registrar (you may wish to do this yourself rather than seeking professional help) and help with any other related matters.
  • Open a bank account in the name of the executors.
  • Calculate the Inheritance Tax Bill (if any) and pay it.  Note this is not a normally allowed to be paid from the estate until probate has been issued.  Probate is not normally granted until the Inheritance Tax bill has been settled.  Which means that the bill has to be paid out of somebody's pocket and not from the estate.  Normally arrangements can be made with bankers for short-term loans to pay this bill whilst awaiting probate.  Probate should now be issued.
  • Collect the assets of the estate.
  • Pay any outstanding debts.
  • Contact the deceased persons local Inspector of Taxes to file a tax return for the deceased.
  • Prepare Estate Accounts.
  • Obtain Beneficiaries approval by signature on the estate accounts confirming that they are happy with how the executor has dealt with the estate.
  • Distribute remaining estate in accordance with the Will.
  • Close the Executors Bank Account.

3.  Last Will and Testament

If you have been appointed as an Executor and you really do not want the responsibility, you can appoint a solicitor to do the work for you.  A solicitor will charge for the services they provide and will generally take any fees due from the estate once matters are concluded.

However, by appointing a solicitor, you are still an Executor, but employing services so that you do not have to administer things yourself.  Technically, if anything goes wrong, you are still responsible in your capacity as Executor.

If you are a joint Executor and the other person is happy to administer the estate on their own (and you are happy for them to do it) you can swear an oath and do what is known as 'reserve power'.  This means that the other Executor does all of the administration and you do nothing, whilst still technically remaining as an Executor.  However, as you will still be classed as an Executor, if anything goes wrong, you are still responsible.

If having any responsibility is not for you and you do not want to be an Executor at all, you can 'renounce your appointment'.  This has to be done officially by a solicitor.  The one you use will probably need to see a copy of the Will so that the proper wording can be used.  Once your appointment has been renounced, you are no longer an Executor and no longer responsible for anything that happens with the estate.

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