Executor of a Will - FAQs

What is an executor of a Will?

An executor is a person named in your Will who is legally responsible for dealing with your estate after you have passed away. As such, it's important that it's someone you trust.

Executors need to ensure that the instructions in your Will are carried out and that all legal and financial obligations are taken care of to the best of their ability.

What does an executor of a Will do?

In what is often referred to as ‘winding down the estate’, an executor will carry out the following duties:

  • Registering your death with a GP or doctor
  • Taking responsibility for your property and assets (including insuring said properties and assets)
  • Collecting debts and selling assets owed
  • Paying outstanding taxes and bills
  • Carrying out the instructions in the Will (e.g. distributing inheritance)

If requested, the executor may also be required to appear in court on your behalf to resolve any ongoing legal issues.

Who can be an executor of a Will?

The only legal requirements are that an executor is over 18 and both physically and mentally able to take on the task. 

It's worth noting that an executor can also be named as a beneficiary in your Will, 

Who should I choose as an executor?

As an executor carries a lot of responsibility, it's important to choose someone that you trust. People often select a member of their family or a close friend to act as an executor, but you might also consider asking your solicitor. 

Some people also choose to name alternative executors in their Will in case the primary executor cannot carry out the task.

What power does an executor of a Will have?

The executor of a Will has power over your finances and personal documents after you have died. This comes into effect once the executor has applied for probate and finishes once their duties have been carried out.

What should I do if a charity is named in the Will?

If there is a named charity beneficiary in a Will, you should contact their legacy team to discuss the gift with them. Each charity will have different preferences on how they would like to receive legacy payments, so it is best to speak with them directly about this.

What details does the charity need?

In your role as executor, the named charity would find it useful to be informed of the following:

1. Details of the person who has passed away, including:

  • Full name
  • Last known address and any other recent addresses
  • Date of Will
  • Date of death
  • Whether the deceased was a lifetime supporter of the charity (this would enable them to put a stop to any future promotional mailings)

2. Some beneficiaries are entitled to a copy of the Will. For example, if they receive a share of the residue of the estate (what is left after any specific gifts have been made), you should provide such beneficiaries with this and also a list of the late benefactor’s assets and liabilities at the date of death.

3. You should also provide the charity with reasonable updates about the estate administration. This will allow them to understand the nature and contents of the estate and approve any key steps which you take during the administration, for example agreeing the sale price of a property. Such consultation can avoid problems arising in the future.