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Wills & Probate | Duties of an Executor

Article provided by Penn Chambers:

If you are the Executor of a Will, you are legally responsible for dealing with the deceasedís estate (i.e. their assets and liabilities) and carrying out the wishes detailed in the Will.

The process is complex, complete with its own jargon. If you make a mistake, you could end up owing money yourself, personally. It is therefore important to act carefully and keep detailed accounts of your movements.

What are the first steps?

Well, before you go any furtherÖ make sure you have registered the death (within 5 days, including weekends and bank holidays, in England and Wales). You will then receive the death certificate.

You will then need to find the Will itself, whilst also making sure it is the last Will the deceased made.

If there is no Will, then you need to take a different route, which will not be described in this particular article.

The Will may also set out the deceasedís funeral wishes, i.e. whether they wish to be buried or cremated, so it is important to find out if the deceased had any particular wishes before arranging the funeral Ė although please note that funeral wishes in a Will are not legally binding.

Finally, you will also need to tell important organisations, particularly the government, that the person has died. You may also want to inform places of work, landlords, credit card holders and so on.

What are the assets and liabilities?

Well, once you have dealt with the above, you need to work out how much the deceasedís estate actually is. This will then help work out what amount of tax is owed.

The assets will include, property, bank accounts, pensions, possessions, credit cards etc.

Once that has been identified, you will then be able to calculate the inheritance tax, although it is strongly advised that legal advice is taken to ensure that the correct figure has been calculated.

Inheritance tax must be paid no later than 6 months from the end of the month in which the deceased died, otherwise interest on the unpaid tax will be charged.

Applying for Grant of Probate

You will thereafter need to apply for Grant of Probate, along with submitting the relevant IHT forms.

The application for Grant of Probate can be made either online or by post, depending on the deceasedís circumstances, which will not be discussed here.

Finalising the estate

Finally, and once Grant of Probate has been received, you can then start collecting the money and property from the estate.

You must ensure that all liabilities are paid before distributing the estate, such as funeral expenses, loans, credit cards etc.

The Executor will need to prepare the final estate accounts which provides a summary of all of the assets, all of the liabilities, any income received during the administration period, and how the estate has been distributed.


This can be quite a difficult and lengthy process, especially given the current delays with third party companies due to the pandemic.

An estate cannot be rushed and you must ensure that everything takes place in the correct order, that you locate all assets and creditors, the correct amount of IHT is paid, and, finally, that the estate is distributed accordingly.

The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute professional advice and you should take full and comprehensive legal, accountancy or financial advice as appropriate on your individual circumstances by a fully qualified Solicitor, Accountant or Financial Advisor/Mortgage Broker before you embark on any course of action.

Contact Emma Aslett with your questions on 0207 183 4595.


If you are looking for any Estate Planning advice including Wills, Probate, Tax, or Power of Attorney matters contact:

Penn Chambers
Penn Chambers
13 Austin Friars
Greater London

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