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Choosing an executor for your Will is a difficult decision. This is the person you will trust to ensure your estate is dealt with as you wish after you are gone. An executor is appointed in a Will to carry out the testator’s instructions. This article explores the responsibilities of an executor.


Carefully consider being an executor. As you take on personal liability, ensure you understand the role or obtain legal advice if proceeding without it. Serving as executor is complex and time-consuming. Decide whether this is a role you are willing and able to take on.

Inheritance Tax

Depending on an estate’s value and inheritance tax due, the executor must handle HMRC – paying timely and accurately. Our recommendation is usually for accountants to report income, capital gains tax, etc. However, they still need the executor to provide information and approve the paperwork.

Additionally, the executor must find all assets, pay outstanding debts effectively, and gather everything into the estate properly. This is a significant responsibility requiring great attention and care in the interests of the deceased and beneficiaries.


The executor must also pay any legacies, or gifts, left in the Will. Complex decisions may be needed to satisfy these, depending on the estate value and assets. For example, assets may need selling or transferring, each with different tax implications.

Most importantly, the executor must locate and contact all beneficiaries about their inheritance. If beneficiary contact details are unknown, the executor may need to instruct a tracing agent to find them. The executor bears responsibility for ensuring all beneficiaries receive what is left.

This can involve significant effort in researching beneficiaries, determining the best approaches for asset distribution, handling various taxation issues, and managing communications. It is a time-intensive process requiring commitment from the appointed executor.

Accepting the responsibilities of an Executor

If you find yourself appointed as an executor under a Will, it is crucial to consider whether this is a role you are able to perform effectively. Seeking advice from a solicitor specialising in executory work will be a key part of this decision. The legal costs that a solicitor charges will generally be deductible from the estate and not payable by you personally.

Should you wish to discuss the appointment of an Executor in your Will or, if you are required to act as Executor but aren’t sure where to turn, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Private Client team who would be pleased to assist.

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