your responsibility as executor

A death in the family is a sad and confusing time. If you have been appointed as Executor of the Will, the role carries serious responsibilities and can be complex, time consuming and demanding. Handling a person’s estate requires knowledge of legal, accounting, taxation and general administration principles. Inheritance Tax may need to be calculated, assets and liabilities determined and legacies distributed. Accurate estate accounts need to be prepared.

The role of Executor may include some or all of the following obligations:

  • registering the death with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages;
  • organisation of the funeral if no family member exists to take on the responsibility;
  • locating the Will;

  • securing, insuring and maintaining any unoccupied property forming part of the estate;

  • determining assets and liabilities of the estate and their value at date of death with larger and more valuable items and any house, flat or other land possibly requiring a professional valuation;

  • identifying any assets previously given away by the deceased in the 7 year period before death;

  • preparing any relevant Inheritance Tax forms for submission to HM Revenue & Customs and dependent upon the value and nature of the assets in the estate it may be necessary to prepare full Inheritance Tax Accounts;
  • arrangement of funds to pay any Inheritance Tax due within 6 months from date of death;
  • making application for Grant of Probate in situations where:-

         -the estate has a value of more than £5,000.00;

         -banks, building societies, share registrars, insurance and pension companies require it ;

         -property or land was owned by the deceased personally or as “tenant in common”

  • defending any claims made against the estate, including any such claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act  1975
  • advertising for creditors;
  • closing bank or building society accounts, selling or transferring shares or property and dealing with any other assets in the estate;
  • paying debts and other expenses and any legacies given by the Will;
  • completing tax returns for the period of administration and providing beneficiaries with details for their own tax returns;
  • obtaining clearance from HM Revenue & Customs in relation to Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax (if any);
  • preparing estate accounts, identifying all receipts and payments out of the estate and distributing the remainder of the estate in accordance with the terms of the deceased’s will, or in accordance with the laws of intestacy if there is no will;
  • handing over to the trustees of any trust created by the Will responsibility for the ongoing administration of the trust


As Executor you become legal owner of the assets in the estate until they are distributed to the beneficiaries or the trustees where a Will trust is created.  You may also be personally liable for ongoing administration of the estate.

Is there a requirement to act as Executor?

If you have been appointed an Executor by a Will, you do not have to act. You should make an early decision as to whether or not you wish to accept the position of Executor and if you do not wish to do so, you can renounce probate. If you agree to act as Executor you are legally required to perform your duties with “due diligence” and are liable to beneficiaries for any loss resulting from wrongful use of the deceased’s property, negligence or maladministration.

Do I need to take out a Grant of Probate?

There is no statutory requirement for probate to be obtained in every case. As referred to above, however, to ensure that a person seeking release of assets (e.g. funds in a Bank account) has authority to deal with them, and to protect themselves against possible liability for releasing assets to the wrong person, banks, insurance companies and pension funds are likely to require probate before releasing or transferring funds in their possession. Small sums may often be released without the need for probate to be obtained. A house, flat or other land that is held solely in the name of the deceased, or as a tenant in common, will always require a grant of probate in order to complete a sale or transfer. 

We would be pleased to help you with any aspect of your role as Executor/Administrator. Please contact us