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What is the role of an Executor in the Probate process?


When making a Will, you have to choose someone to act as your Executor. Your Executor must organise your funeral and carry out the terms of your Will. This will usually involve applying for a Grant of Probate, completing inheritance tax forms, collecting in the assets and distributing the Estate.

When appointing an Executor, it is recommended to appoint someone you trust absolutely. The person you appoint must be happy to complete paperwork, because the role of an Executor requires a lot of administration. You can appoint up to four Executors under your Will. It is recommended that you do not choose people who do not get on with each other because they will have to work together.

What are the initial steps an Executor must take?

Your Executor will need to:

  • Find the original copy of your Will
  • Arrange your funeral
  • Identify all your assets, including bank accounts, life insurance, property and valuables.
  • Complete a full declaration of the value of your estate to the Revenue and
  • Apply for the Grant of Probate.

Locate your Will

It is a good idea to tell your Executor(s) where the original copy of the Will is stored. You may choose to store your Will in your own home, or if a solicitor drafted your Will, you may have stored the original copy with the firm.

When your Executor locates your Will, they must keep the Will safe because it will be required for the Probate application.

Arrange the Funeral

It is your Executor’s responsibility to arrange your funeral.

You may have given directions in your Will concerning funeral arrangements. These directions are an expression of wishes only, and your Executor can legally carry out different funeral arrangements. When deciding whom to appoint as your Executor, you should consider who will carry out your wishes.

Your Executor can usually ask your bank to pay your funeral expenses from your bank account. This is one expense which banks agree to pay before the Grant of Probate has been obtained. If your Executor pays funeral expenses from their own money, they will be entitled to be reimbursed from your Estate for any reasonable expenses incurred.

Collect in your Assets

Your Executor will need to work out the value of all the assets in your Estate through any paperwork you have left available and by making enquiries with third parties, such as the bank.

Determining the value of your Estate is an important part of an Executor’s role for a number of reasons. A Grant of Representation is not always required, for example, if your Estate is under £10,000 or your Estate only includes jointly owned property. If your Estate is valued at more than £325,000, it may be subject to taxation.

Applying for a Grant of Representation

Once your Executor has located your Will, arranged your funeral and has obtained a full valuation of your estate, your Executor can apply for Probate.

Although your Will gives your Executor authority to manage your Estate, most third parties such as banks, will want to see a Grant of Probate before releasing funds. The grant confirms that the Will appointing your Executor is a valid Will and that it was the last Will that you made.

Some Executors may decide to deal with the administration themselves. This will include applying for the Grant of Probate, collecting in your assets, paying your debts, and distributing your assets to your beneficiaries. However, other Executors prefer to instruct solicitors to assist with the administration.

You will appreciate the amount of work your Executor has when administering your Estate. You should ensure your Executor is trustworthy and reliable. If you would like to draft a Will or you are an Executor and need help applying for a Grant of Representation and/or administering an Estate, please contact our specialist team.

Tailer Punton – Wills, Probate and Trusts Team


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