Will Wills

What Are My Duties as an Executor Under a Will?

clients talking to a will executor

There’s no arguing that making preparations for one’s own passing is a challenging exercise. The importance of making these plans cannot be underplayed or understated – there aren’t many tasks that are more serious or more important to do right than ensuring someone’s final wishes are followed.

In this light, it’s easy to understand why the role of an Executor is vital as it’s the job to handle all the relevant legal tasks that come with a death.

What are those tasks?

Whether you are trying to pick Executors for your own Will or deciding whether or not to accept the role as someone else’s Executor, it’s important to be fully aware of the role’s responsibilities. This article will guide you through all the duties expected of an Executor.

Immediate Duties After the Death

Generally the first two things that an Executor must do are officially register the death and arrange for the funeral.

In England, registering a death must be done within 5 days and is done at the nearest registry office.

Settling the Finances of the Deceased

The exact details will vary from case to case but ascertaining the finances of the deceased will generally begin with a schedule of their assets and liabilities.  We advise that you make a comprehensive list of everything the deceased owned and owed. Valuations from professionals such as Estate Agents, Stockbrokers or Jewellers to obtain the values at the date of death might be required.

Inheritance Tax

If the value of the estate is over the tax threshold, inheritance tax will have to be paid.  The tax payable will vary from case to case.

Settling Debts

It’s an Executor’s responsibility to ensure that all of the deceased’s debts are paid before the remainder can be distributed to the beneficiaries.

Executors can be held personally liable if they distribute assets to beneficiaries without taking steps to locate and settle all relevant debts held by the deceased. This situation can be avoided by placing a Section 27 notice in the London Gazette and the local paper where the deceased lived and owned property. If no creditors come forward within two months, they have done their due diligence. They can distribute assets to beneficiaries incurring personal liability for debts that are brought to their attention after that date.

Grant of Probate

A grant of probate is a document which officially proves the validity of both the Will and the right of the Executor to handle the deceased’s estate. Some properties such as a deceased’s house, shares and ISAs require the Executor to apply for the Grant of Probate.


Lastly, given how much power an Executor has over an estate, transparency and accountability are critical. It is necessary to keep records of every transaction taken and to compile a complete set of accounts for the estate. 

Always Stay Informed so that you can Make the Right Choice

While we’ve covered some of the fundamental expectations and responsibilities of an Executor, every estate is different.  Some are simple and others complicated.

That’s where Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors comes in. We are able to help each step of the way when administering a person’s estate.

Don’t leave room for uncertainty and doubt when it comes to your final affairs. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.