Executors Duties

An executor is the person responsible for carrying out the instructions you set out in your will. You are able to select the executor yourself by naming that individual in your will. Virtually anyone, a friend, family member, solicitor or bank can carry out this duty. You can name more than one individual up to a maximum of four to jointly carry out the executors duties.


This position carries a tremendous amount of responsibility and administrators and executors duties are not easy to carry out. For a non-lawyer, the process can be overwhelming which is why many executors opt to ask a solicitor to assist them. The first order of business is to value the deceased’s assets and determine any outstanding liabilities. Bank accounts, liquid assets and property must all be included in this initial assessment. Once the assets have been valued, application is made to the local Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate. A sworn affidavit must be presented to the court which provides details about the deceased, the deceased’s death and the value of the estate. The executor must declare a net value of the assets left to be distributed to the beneficiaries and submits this document to the Capital Taxes Office which decides if they are satisfied with the figures and may call for further information to be provided.

Collection and Distribution of Assets

The grant of probate confirms the executor with the legal authority to begin managing the deceased’s assets however that authority is derived from the will. The executors duties are outlined both in law and more specifically in the content of the will. Carrying out the instructions in the will might require the appointee to sell property or shares and to call in the balance of bank accounts. The liquidated assets are used to pay any taxes or other liabilities. What’s left after the deceased’s debts have been paid is then distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the will. The duties of the executor must be performed with extreme care because their is a personal responsibility to see that the taxes are paid and that the beneficiaries receive their inheritances. Many executors employ a solicitor to help alleviate the burden of their responsibilities and to carry out the executors duty on their behalf.

Importance of Wills

Most individuals possess assets at the time of their death. People want the comfort of knowing that those assets will be distributed to their beneficiaries according to their wishes. The best way to ensure that this happens is to visit a wills and probate solicitor who can assist you in preparing a legally binding document that clearly outlines your wishes. When preparing the will, you can also select an executor who will manage the distribution of your assets on your behalf. The executors duty to the beneficiaries is to carry out the deceased’s intentions with regard to their property.


Should an individual pass away without a will, legal protocols known as the intestacy rules which dictate the distribution of assets come into play. The intestacy rules help an the appointed administrator (who is usually also a beneficiary) to determine who is entitled to claim the deceased’s assets after considering the degrees of relationships individuals have to the deceased. The Grant of Letters of Administration is a document issued by the Probate Division of the High Court of Justice upon application by a person who will subsequently become administrator of the estate. An executors duty and an administrators duty to beneficiaries are very similar in so far as they both have to collect in and subsequently distribute assets. Should there be no qualifying relative under the applicable legal rules, the Government may be able to claim all of the deceased’s assets.

Common Mistakes Made in Wills

The rules and regulations surrounding wills are highly complex and executors face a multitude of arduous duties. Someone with no legal knowledge of wills can step into one of the many pitfalls that can derail their testamentary intentions. A will which fails technically can either revive a previous will or force the use of the intestacy rules. Here are some of the most common mistakes made by those who prepare their own wills:

~ Failing to properly sign and execute the will due to a lack of knowledge of the legal requirements
~ Allowing the Government to claim certain items by failing to distribute all assets in their will
~ Making alterations to their document that do not conform to the legal requirements for a binding codicil
~ Failing to take births, marriages, divorces, deaths and The Civil Partnership Act into account
~ Failing to consider the rights of dependents