Will writing

Duties of an executor or administrator

Are you the assigned administrator or executor of a will? Here we give you an overview of your duties. If you have any questions, please contact us to discuss your matter with one of our specialist solicitors.

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What is the executor or administrator of a will?

The executor is the named person in a will who is responsible for identifying and collecting in assets, identifying and paying any debts of the estate and then distributing the balance of the estate in accordance with the will or rules of intestacy. If no executor is named or if the executor is unwilling to act, the administrator will take on this role instead. Who can act as administrator of the estate is defined by a fixed order of priority. An executor or administrator may also be referred to as a personal representative.

What are the duties of a personal representative?

The role of the personal representative covers different duties that you might be unfamiliar with:

  • Applying for probate: A Grant of Probate is an official document from the Court which gives you the right to administer the estate. If you are the administrator, you will have to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration, which serves the same purpose. A Grant of Probate and a Grant of Letters of Administration may also be referred to as a Grant of Representation. Read our guide "What is probate" for more information on the process
  • Announcing the death of the deceased person: It's your duty to notify asset holders of the person's death.
  • Maintaining property: The personal representative should maintain the property until it's distributed or sold.
  • Paying debts and expenses: If the deceased person had any debts or outstanding payments, the personal representative has to pay them from the estate before distributing the estate.
  • Sharing out the estate: The estate has to be shared with the beneficiaries according to the will (or according to the rules of intestacy) of the deceased person.

What expenses can I claim from the estate?

You are not entitled to a reimbursement of your time. However, you can pay yourself back any expenses you had to fulfil your duties as personal representative, such as the following:

  • Travel expenses
  • Telephone and postage costs
  • A solicitor who assists you with your role as personal representative is entitled to charge for their time. These professional costs are paid by the estate.

Can I be held liable for my actions as personal representative?

Yes, as personal representative, you can be held liable if you cause a loss to the estate. We advise you to work with a solicitor to avoid any mistakes being made during the administration period. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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