An executor is a person (or sometimes more than one person) named in a Will to carry out the wishes of the Will-maker after their death. Often solicitors or specialist trustee companies are named as executors.

The most critical activity undertaken by the appointed executor is to apply to for a Grant of Probate. Beyond this key task, the duties of an executor vary depending on the circumstances. Most executors will play a part in making funeral arrangements, and will usually apply for a copy of the death certificate. Executors will generally take responsibility for accounting for the estate, which requires that all assets are located, assessed for value, and safeguarded.

Once probate has been granted, the executor will discharge the debts of the estate. The executor of the estate must consult an accountant to ensure that any tax liability is satisfied. The executor will then distribute the remaining assets in accordance with the will of the deceased. If there is a legal challenge or contest of the estate, the executor will also defend the estate in court.

In summary, the executor may have to:

  • collect all the assets and have them valued if needed
  • find out what debts are owed and pay them from the money made by selling the assets
  • arrange tax returns
  • claim life insurance
  • arrange the funeral
  • apply for a grant of probate (they must be over 18 when they apply)
  • distribute the estate according to Will
  • take or defend legal action on behalf of the estate.

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