Being executor is a major role, with significant rights and responsibilities. However,
advice is available and we can arrange for the responsibilities to be taken from
An executor normally also acts as trustee.
Executor and Trustee
The responsibility for putting a Will into action is the role of the Executor. If
there is no Will then beneficiaries (who inherit under the rules of intestacy) can
apply to be the ‘personal representative’ of the deceased - essentially taking the
same role as an Executor. Anyone named as executor in a Will is not committed to
the role - effectively they are just given first refusal. However, once you start
to administer the estate or take similar actions then you are committed and are liable
for what happens.
Being executor is a significant role, with legal and financial responsibilities lasting
many years and with fines and financial liabilities if you act inappropriately. For
example, if you pay out the inheritance but then a new claim is made against the
estate you may be personally liable to pay that debt. The role can include
Identifying and correctly valuing ALL assets / debts in the estate - including gifts
and trusts that will figure in the inheritance tax return. The executor is responsible
for the assets until such time as they are actually passed to the beneficiaries.
Completing income tax and inheritance tax returns and also arranging for payment
of outstanding tax bills.
Once probate is granted, gathering in the assets (e.g. closing accounts, selling
property as appropriate).
Using the assets to settle estate debts and to pay out the legacies specified in
Arranging transfer of assets into names of beneficiaries (e.g. property, or share
/ savings accounts that are being kept).
Providing estate accounts and then finally sharing the residue between the designated
Typically those appointed as executor also act as trustee, if required. It is the
responsibility of the trustee to look after the estate’s assets, according the the
conditions laid down in the Will. Updates to government regulations also mean that
trustees will need to register most trusts with HM Revenue & Customs (the main exceptions
being trusts that simply look after inheritance until children reach the age of 18
/ 21 / 25)
An executor can also be a beneficiary of the Will. However, if there is any suggestion
that there might be tensions it may be better to have a third party involved, especially
if there is a trustto be implemented and managed. Where multiple executors are named
they all have equal authority, unless otherwise indicated in the wording. Thus, there
is no significance to whoever is named first nor to the eldest, etc - unless the
testator states otherwise.
If clients wish, InHouse can arrange for a professional executor to be appointed,
to relieve family of the responsibility.