What does it mean to be an executor?

The importance of acting as an Executor is not fully understood by many and it is possible that you may be named as an Executor of someone’s Will without your knowledge.

Acting as an Executor carries many duties and responsibilities when dealing with a person’s estate. One of the first things that needs to be ascertained is whether or not the estate is liable to Inheritance Tax (‘IHT’).  This is determined by many factors and some people will be able to claim higher tax free allowances due to their personal circumstances.

Another duty is to settle all outstanding liabilities of the estate.  This in itself can be a difficult process, particularly if you did not know the deceased person particularly well.  Jackamans advises that special Notices are placed in the newspapers to alert creditors to the estate.  These Notices offer protection to Executors.

Claims can also be made by beneficiaries who feel they have been left an insufficient legacy in regard to the size of the estate, or a person who has been left out of a Will completely.  Again, some protection can be given to an Executor if they obtain probate and await the required time limit before they distribute.

If an Executor does not place notices or does not wait the required time limit after probate is granted before distributing the estate, he or she may be personally liable in the event that a successful claim is made.

The final duty is to ensure the estate is distributed in accordance with the deceased’s Will, first of all paying legacies and then distributing the residuary estate.  When accounting to beneficiaries, an Executor is advised to protect his position by carrying out certain searches to ensure that the beneficiaries are not bankrupt. The cost is minimal and avoids a potential claim against the Executor by a Trustee in Bankruptcy.

The duties of an Executor can therefore be onerous and a role which many may prefer not to take on. If you feel you would like guidance in your capacity as Executor please contact Carol Lockett at or call 01394 279636. We will be happy to discuss Executors’ duties and to provide assistance in dealing with an estate.

This article provides only a general summary and is not intended to be comprehensive.  Special legal advice should be taken in any individual situation.



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