What are the Responsibilities and Duties of an Executor of a Will?

An executor is a person who is named in a Will as taking legal responsibility for carrying out the instructions in the Will, making sure the estate is properly wound up and the wishes of the deceased are carried out. 

Most people choose close family members as their executors, with spouses, civil partners and children being the most often appointed. It is important to get consent before appointing someone as an executor.

Anyone aged over 18 can be an executor of a Will, and there is no rule against people who are among the beneficiaries of a Will also being an executor. However, it is worth remembering that an executor cannot be one of the official witnesses to the making of a Will.

Many people choose more than one executor; any individual can have up to four executors at a time, although this could lead to confusion about responsibilities. 

If you are named in a Will as an executor, you might have to apply for probate, which is a legal document which gives you the authority to share out the estate of the deceased according to the instructions in the Will.


There are a number of responsibilities that come with being an executor. Firstly, you need to register the death, which will involve getting a medical certificate from the deceased’s GP, and taking it to the nearest registry office. 

Once the death has been registered, you have to arrange the funeral. It is important to be aware of any instructions or funeral plans that had been left in the Will. 

Next, the estate needs to be valued. This includes dealing with any income tax issues from the date of death to the end of the administration period, as well as any capital gains tax liability on the disposal of assets. 

Inheritance Tax and Probate

Inheritance Tax (IHT) also needs to be dealt with. The estate needs to be assessed and any IHT due must be paid. This can take some time, depending on how complicated the estate is. 

Once the IHT issue has been dealt with, probate must be applied for. You can do this via Gov.uk or by post.  

To protect the executor from any liabilities on the estate of which they are not aware, a deceased estates notice must be placed in The Gazette, the official publication of the UK government. 

After a period of time, to allow any liabilities to show themselves, the estate can be distributed to those named in the Will. 

Finally, the executor should keep full records and prepare a final set of accounts for the estate. These accounts should be shown to beneficiaries for their approval.

Being an executor is a very responsible job, and it is important to seek specialist advice. At PowellsLaw we have a team of specialist lawyers with a wealth of knowledge and experience, who can offer sympathetic and practical advice. Contact us on 01934 623 501 or email helpforyou@powellslaw.com. Or visit our website for more information.

Join our mailing list...

Need some help?

Contact us to request a call back

Need help?