What are an executor’s duties?

Legal clinic round up – September 2018

Every month we hold free legal clinics in Kingsbridge and Dartmouth. 

During the last month we met a man called Ed.  He is appointed as executor in his brother’s will. His brother was seriously ill and was likely to die very soon. Ed didn’t really know what being an executor meant or what he needed to do.   

As executor he is responsible for carrying out his brother’s wishes as set out in his will, and he must make sure he kept his brother’s original will safe. One of his first duties will be to make funeral arrangements, checking to see if his brother’s will includes funeral instructions or burial wishes.

Ed is responsible for registering his brother’s death, notifying relevant authorities, benefit agencies, pension companies and financial institutions. As executor he should secure his brother’s house, freeze bank accounts and make sure that any valuable personal items are put in a safe place.

He will need to collect his brother’s papers so that he can make a list of assets – the value of the house, bank accounts, investments and life insurance policies. He should also list all liabilities, taxes that need to be paid, debts and any other outstanding bills. When he knows the value of assets and liabilities he will be able to work out if he needs to apply for a Grant of Probate or pay inheritance tax.

Ed should collect together the assets, sell the property, cash in investments and pay all liabilities including outstanding bills, loans and taxes so that finally, he can prepare estate accounts and distribute the net estate in accordance with his brother’s wishes.

Acting as executor is not straightforward and Ed could appoint a professional to help him, paying the professional’s fees from the estate.