What Does an Executor Do?

19 March 2018

An Executor is someone who is responsible for administering a person’s Estate after their death. This involves a number of duties, which typically take between nine months to a year to complete, although it can be longer in more complex Estates.

With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for getting Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excl VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs*.

Executor Duties

When someone dies, one of the first things their loved ones should do is check whether or not he/she left a Will. If so, the Will will confirm who the Executors of the Will are. These individuals or organisations should be contacted and, as long as they are able and willing to act, should begin their Executor duties immediately. 

The duties of an Executor are extremely broad, and can also vary depending on the complexity of the Estate. But generally, an Executor will need to complete the following:

Register the death – if it hasn’t been done already, the Executor should register the death and order official copies of the death certificate.

Arrange the funeral – again, if necessary, the Executor should organise the funeral. 

Secure property – if the deceased has left a property unoccupied, the Executor should secure the property and stop or redirect the post. The insurance company must also be informed, as the fact the property is now empty may invalidate the insurance policy. If so, a new policy will be needed. 

Rehome pets – if the deceased left behind any pets, the Executor will become responsible for them. The deceased may have made provisions for their pets in their Will, but if not the Executor must rehome them. 

Report the death – the Executor will need to report the death to various people and organisations. This includes government departments such as HM Revenue & Customs, the DLVA and the Department for Work and Pensions. The Executor should also tell anyone to whom the deceased owned money (such as mortgage lenders) and anyone holding the deceased’s assets (such as banks and building societies). Any incoming payments (such as salary and pensions) should be stopped, as should any direct debits or other expenditure. 

Value the Estate – the Executor will need to work out the value of the deceased’s Estate. This means finding out the value of everything he/she owned, and deducting any liabilities that are still outstanding. This might require professional valuations, particularly if the deceased owned property. 

Find out if Inheritance Tax is due – the value of the Estate will also determine whether or not Inheritance Tax is payable. The Executor will need to consider what exemptions and reliefs are available, depending on the deceased’s personal circumstances and the identity of the Beneficiaries.

Pay Inheritance Tax – the Executor will need to pay the Inheritance Tax due before applying for a Grant of Probate

Apply for a Grant of Probate – if Probate is needed, the Executor will need to apply for a Grant of Probate. This involves completing a PA1 form and sending it to the Probate Registry with the Probate Registry fee, an official copy of the death certificate, the Will and three official copies, and the correct Inheritance Tax form.

Collect / transfer assets – once the Grant of Probate had been issued, the Executor can collect in any assets or transfer them to the Beneficiaries.

Pay outstanding debts – once the Grant of Probate has been issued, the Executor should use the money in the Estate to pay any debts that are due. 

Place Deceased Estate Notices – although not compulsory, the Executor can place Deceased Estate Notices in The Gazette and newspapers local to where the deceased lived. This is to inform any potential creditors of the death. See How to Place a Deceased Estates Notice on the process and advantages of doing so.

Prepare Estate accounts – the Executor must prepare final Estate accounts to be approved and signed by the Beneficiaries. 

Distribute the Estate – once assets have been converted into cash and the debts have been paid, the Executor can distribute the Estate to the Beneficiaries named in the Will. If a Beneficiary is missing, it is the Executor’s responsibility to find him/her. 

This is just an overview of the types of things an Executor typically has to do. Other jobs may also arise. For example, if the deceased owned foreign property, the Executor will need to instruct lawyers in that country to deal with the asset.

Probate Solicitors

When someone dies, their Executor becomes responsible for their Estate. The Executor also has an obligation to act in the best interests of the Beneficiaries, even if the Executor himself is not entitled to receive anything under the terms of the Will. 

Therefore being an Executor can be a selfless act, and it also carries a lot of responsibility. If something goes wrong, it is the Executor who will be held accountable. 

Because the role of Executor involves such a lot of work, and a degree of personal risk, many people choose to instruct Probate Solicitors to act on their behalf. This is perfectly acceptable, and just because the deceased named you as Executor, doesn’t mean that you can’t get any professional help.

With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for getting Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excl VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs*.

There are no upfront costs to pay as our fees will be taken from the Estate once it is funds.

*We can also pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral, providing the Estate owns sufficient assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs.

If someone has died and you need help with probate, contact us:

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