Your Role As Executor - Frequently Asked Questions

The process of dealing with someone’s estate after they die, commonly known as Probate, involves collecting any assets that the deceased owned, settling any debts due (including outstanding taxes) and dividing the estate amongst the respective beneficiaries.

An Executor is the person legally appointed to administer an estate after a person has passed away with a valid Will. The Executor’s role is to ensure that the estate is distributed in accordance with the Will. The appointment comes with responsibility and you will be expected to undertake a wide range of tasks. 

It is important you understand your responsibilities when dealing with the assets and liabilities of the deceased as you could be held personally liable if any mistakes are made, which could be very costly.

What are my roles and responsibilities as an Executor?

At this difficult time, there are practical considerations to consider. Your role is to safeguard the deceased’s property and assets. It is the duty of an Executor to undertake the following:

  • Review any instruction left by the deceased regarding funeral arrangements
  • Ascertain the value of the deceased’s estate together with any liabilities as of the date of death
  • Ensure any property is adequately insured and comply with the policy conditions
  • Apply for a Grant of Probate and complete inheritance tax forms where applicable
  • Arrange payment of any inheritance tax liability
  • Pay any other debts
  • Liaise with utility providers
  • Call in assets due to the estate
  • Deal with any property forming part of the estate
  • Deal with the income tax and ensure all tax matters are finalised prior to distribution of the residuary estate
  • Deliver Estate Accounts
  • Distribute to the beneficiaries

You also have a duty of care to the beneficiaries of the estate and must act impartially, even if you are one of the beneficiaries.

Estate administration can be complex and overwhelming at such a difficult time. JCP Solicitors has a specialist dedicated team who can provide the assistance you may require to help alleviate any stress or concerns; we offer a professional but empathetic approach when dealing with such sensitive matters. We can deal with the whole process from start to finish, or assist you with certain steps.

Get in touch with our friendly team on 03333 208644 or email


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      • Sean Boucher
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How long will it take to distribute an estate?

The procedure for properly administering an estate can take approximately 9 to 12 months in total to fully complete in the majority of cases. More complex estates may take significantly longer to complete. You should ensure the beneficiaries are mindful that they will not receive their inheritance immediately and to be flexible with their expectations. 

What else should I consider when valuing the estate?

As well as property and other valuable possessions, things to be considered could include:

  • Death in service benefits
  • Pensions/benefits and any over or under payments
  • Overpayment or underpayment of tax or welfare benefits
  • Final self-assessment tax return to finalise the deceased’s income position

Following the encashment or transfer of the assets and settlement of any outstanding debts of the estate, you should prepare estate accounts for approval from the beneficiaries. These accounts will set out details of the assets and any liabilities, including any expenses (such as legal and other professional costs), incurred.

How should I protect myself from personal liability?

There are many aspects of the estate administration whereby an executor can be criticised or left personally liable if they have carried out their duties without due diligence. To protect yourself from liability we suggest you consider whether you need to:

  • Undertake a full estate asset and liability searches
  • Place a Section 27 Trustee Act 1925 Notices
  • Await 6 months from the date the Grant of Probate is issued before distributing the estate.  If any person wishes to bring a claim against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, they must generally do so within the 6 months.
  • Undertake bankruptcy searches on each beneficiary prior to receiving  their inheritance  

Claims against the estate are usually made by close members of the family or persons financially dependent upon the deceased in some way during their lifetime. If you feel that there is any prospect of a claim being made by any third party against the estate you should obtain legal advice immediately. At JCP Solicitors we have a specialist team who can assist with contentious probate matters.

Can JCP Solicitors help with my Executor role?

If you feel overwhelmed by the situation, which is not uncommon, we can help alleviate the burden of dealing with the administration of the estate. Our experienced Lifetime Planning Team can ensure the administration is completed properly and the executors comply with all their duties and responsibilities to avoid potentially becoming personally liable for any costly mistakes. We will be happy to provide the executors with a no-obligation quote for helping to administer the estate. It is important to note that our charges are not based on any percentage of the value of the estate, unlike many of our competitors.