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The role of an Executor

What is an Executor?


An Executor is the person, or people, named in a Will who are legally responsible for administering the estate of the deceased. Executors are in charge of handling their affairs and distributing their assets according to the terms of the Will.


Executors can be named beneficiaries within the deceased’s Will – and often are.  In many cases, they are immediate family members (a spouse or adult child), or close friends, so they might be involved in registering the death and arranging the funeral in addition to some of the duties listed below.

Here are some of the key duties of Executors:

  • Locating the original Will.
  • Identifying and valuing assets (bank accounts, property, stocks and shares etc).
  • Securing and insuring any property.
  • Paying off any debts and taxes owed – this includes Inheritance Tax (IHT).
  • Applying for Probate – this is the legal process that grants the Executors the authority to deal with the estate’s assets.
  • Selling the assets and paying all liabilities.
  • Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries as outlined in the Will.
  • Keeping detailed records of all transactions and expenditures and producing estate accounts at the end of the administration.

This can be complex and time-consuming job, so it is important to understand the responsibilities involved before accepting the role.


Executors can seek professional advice from a solicitor to help navigate the process and charge their fees back to the estate.


They are not entitled to claim a salary for carrying out the role but can be reimbursed for reasonable expenses which are paid from the estate before the assets are distributed.

Who can be an Executor?

Almost anyone can be an Executor, as long as they meet a few basic requirements:

  • They must be 18 years old or more at the time of your death.
  • They must have the mental capacity to handle the responsibilities of the role. This means they understand what’s involved and can make sound decisions.


There are no restrictions on who you can choose, so you can name:

  • Family members (spouse, adult children, other close relatives)
  • Friends
  • A professional (solicitor, accountant)


You can name up to four Executors to share the responsibility. However generally it’s advised that you have at least two so that someone can handle things if one person is unable to act.

It seems like a big responsibility – how do I choose?

It is a huge responsibility, and it goes without saying that whoever you choose must understand the responsibilities and be willing to take on the role.

Here are some things to consider when choosing your Executors:

  • You should choose people you trust to carry out your wishes as outlined in your Will.
  • You should appoint people who you can reasonably expect to outlive you.
  • They’ll need to dedicate a great deal of time and effort to administer your estate and the role requires good organisation and attention to detail.
  • It’s important to discuss your wishes with those you would like to appoint and make sure they’re happy to take on the responsibility.


You can find out more about dealing with estate of someone who’s died on the Government website here. However, if you are acting as an Executor for someone who you believe has left a gift in their Will to Royal Star & Garter, you may find it helpful to download our useful information document as a starting point.


For any further information about gifts in Wills, or to find out about our free-will writing service, visit to our How You Can Help section here