Executors Duties

What Are Executor’s Duties?

When someone dies, many people assume that their ‘next of kin’ will sort out their affairs (‘administering the estate’), but this isn’t often the case.

When someone has made a Will and appointed executors in their will, the executors will be responsible for carrying out the deceased’s wishes.

When someone is named the executor of a Will, they are being asked to take responsibility for administering the estate of the person who made the Will, called the testator, upon the testator’s death.

The term ‘estate’ simply refers to all the property a person leaves behind, whether its value be hundreds or millions of pounds.

One person’s assets may include homes, boats and a bank accounts, while another leaves a wedding ring, some clothes and a box full of costume jewellery. Both have left estates to be accounted for and distributed.

Duties of an executor involve corresponding with other parties, keeping meticulous records, filling out forms and being answerable to creditors, beneficiaries and the intentions of the deceased, as recorded in the Will.

Executors’ duties include the following:


  • Taking an inventory of the deceased’s possessions and debts
  • Notifying and corresponding with all relevant organisations to gather together all the assets
  • Paying all bills, debts and charges on the estate
  • Searching for any unclaimed or missing assets
  • Distributing the legacies (whether specific items, cash sums or residue)
  • Preparing and distributing estate accounts to interested parties
  • Distributing the residue of the estate to the beneficiaries
  • Following the testator’s wishes as closely as possible.


  • Applying for a Grant of Probate (in England & Wales, and Northern Ireland) or confirmation (in Scotland) to prove that the executors have the authority to deal with the deceased’s assets to those institutions and authorities that hold assets in the deceased’s name
  • Identifying and dealing with any claims against the estate


  • Completing inheritance tax returns and paying any inheritance tax due
  • Completing any income and capital gains tax returns, and paying any outstanding tax

The executors’ aims are to:

  1. Identify the assets of the estate, and assess their value at date of death.
  2. Identify the deceased’s debts, and pay them.
  3. Distribute the legacies.