Duties & Responsibilities of an Executor

Solicitors in Essex & London


An Executor is a person appointed in a Will to deal with the administration of the estate of someone who has died. An Executor appointment comes with considerable responsibility and potential personal liability if the estate is not administered properly.

It is possible to appoint a spouse or partner as an Executor, notwithstanding that he or she may be a beneficiary in the Will. Often couples will appoint their spouse or partner as sole Executor with substitute Executors, such as adult children appointed to act on the death of the surviving spouse or partner.

The extent of an Executor’s duties depends on the nature and complexity of the estate that needs to be administered. Some estates can be very simple to administer, whereas others can be complex and time-consuming. Our probate solicitors are able to provide a high level of expertise to Executors across Essex, London and further afield.

An Executor’s primary responsibility is to collect in the estate assets, pay any liabilities, expenses or taxes, and then distribute the balance to the beneficiaries named in the Will. In summary, this may appear straightforward, however, there are often intricacies within the process.

An Executor will be required to carry out some or all of the following tasks:

  • Arrange the funeral
  • Accurately establish the value of the estate and any estate liabilities
  • Arrange the payment of any Inheritance Tax and claim any available tax reliefs
  • Apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate
  • Collect in the estate assets
  • Settle the deceased’s income tax and capital gain tax liabilities up to the date of death
  • Settle all estate liabilities and administration expenses
  • Settle any post death estate income tax and capital gains tax liabilities
  • Prepare estate accounts
  • Distribute the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will
  • Set up any Will Trusts contained in the Will
An Executor should be aware of the potential personal liability that goes with their appointment and the legal protection available. Failure to act properly could result in the Executor being personally liable to:
  • Pay the deceased’s debts (including unknown debts)
  • Pay a claimant who successfully claims a share of the estate following a challenge to the terms of the Will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975
  • Pay HMRC penalties and interest
  • Pay any beneficiary who has not received the correct amount from the estate
  • Compensate the beneficiaries named in the Will for any financial loss to the estate as a result of their own negligence
Our team of knowledgeable solicitors recognise that acting as a lay Executor often means dealing with complex and unfamiliar legal issues. It is essential for an Executor to be fully aware of their legal obligations, and the potential personal liability of not administrating an estate properly. If an Executor needs legal advice, it is important that this is taken as soon as possible. Pinney Talfourd offers whatever level of assistance an executor may require. This can range from a one-off consultation with an Executor, to fully administering an estate on their behalf.

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If you feel that you require further legal advice about the duties and responsibilities of being an Executor, please feel free to contact any of our probate solicitors directly.

We can explain your duties and responsibilities and help you plan your next steps. Free consultations with our probate solicitors are available at any one of our offices in  BrentwoodHornchurch  and  Upminster , and also at our office facilities based in  Leigh-On-Sea  and  Canary Wharf, London .

We are able to see clients at short notice and offer home and onsite visits to those who are unable to personally attend our offices.

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