19th September 2023

I have been notified that I am an Executor under the Will of a relative or friend, who has recently passed away. What do I do?

An Executor is a person named in the Will of the deceased who is responsible for carrying out the deceased’s instructions, administering the estate properly and ultimately ensuring that the estate is divided in accordance with the Will’s provisions. Being an Executor is an onerous task in light of the duties and responsibilities afforded to you, and the deceased would likely have appointed you on the basis that they felt that they trusted you and you would be willing to take on the responsibility of the role.

As an Executor, you have a number of responsibilities, which include, but not limited, to:

  • Notifying government organisations of the death, either by contacting the organisations (e.g. DWP, HMRC, the local Council) individually, or by “mass” notification using the Tell Us Once service, details of which will be provided by the Registrar to whomever registers the death
  • Attending to the funeral arrangements (although in certain circumstances, it may be more appropriate for a close family member or friend to see to the arrangements depending on your connection to the deceased); the deceased may have indicated any funeral wishes in their Will, so it would be wise to check this
  • Ensuring any property owned by the deceased is secured and appropriate insurance cover is in place as soon as possible after the death
  • Ascertaining all assets and liabilities in the deceased’s name and obtaining appropriate valuations
  • Reporting to HMRC, if required, in respect of Inheritance Tax and ensuring that any tax due is settled
  • Applying for a Grant of Probate, to give you the legal authority to collect in assets and settle liabilities – a Grant of Probate may not be needed in all circumstances, but you should check with the individual asset holders if they require a Grant before they can close the accounts
  • Collecting in the assets and settling the liabilities, together with ensuring that the deceased’s personal tax affairs are finalised to the date of their death, and for the period of the estate administration if income has been generated during this time
  • Distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the deceased’s Will

If you are appointed to act as an Executor of an estate, then you may wish to undertake the administration yourself and choose not to instruct professionals to act on your behalf. Whilst this is an option available to you, we would advise that you consider carefully before deciding to conduct the administration of the estate yourself, particularly if there is a complex Will or a complex estate, ongoing trusts or where entitlements under a Will are in dispute. We understand that suffering a bereavement is a distressing time for everyone involved and the penalties involved in the administration of an estate should you fail to quite innocently perform your duties are extreme and accountable to you personally.

We would therefore urge you to give serious consideration to using an independent professional, like ourselves, to assist you. If you require any advice or assistance in this regard, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01892 510 222

Amy Turner-Ives

Amy Turner-Ives
Trainee Legal Executive