When a person dies, their estate must be administered after their death. Someone must collect the assets, pay any debts, and distribute any inheritance to the beneficiaries.

Many people assume that the ‘next of kin’ will administer probate, but this is often not the case.

If someone has left a Will, it’s the executor (or executors) named in the Will who will be responsible for carrying out the deceased’s wishes.

If the deceased didn’t leave a Will, they are said to have died ‘intestate’ and their estate will be distributed in accordance with the laws of intestacy, which also determine who should be appointed as administrator, to administer the estate.

Either way, it’s an executor or administrator who is responsible for dealing with probate and the administration of the estate.

In probate terms, both executors and administrators are called ‘personal representatives’.

What are the duties of an executor?

The duties of an executor (or administrator) are to:

  • Check and understand the Will
  • Obtain details of all the assets and liabilities
  • Complete an application for the grant of probate or confirmation
  • Fill in Inland Revenue forms
  • Collect in the assets
  • Pay Inheritance, Income and Capital Gains Tax
  • Pay liabilities and expenses of the estate
  • Pay or transfer legacies
  • Distribute the residuary estate
  • Prepare estate accounts.


Be careful

The task of administering an estate involves a considerable amount of work and the decision to act as executor or administrator shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Executors or administrators are accountable to HM Revenue & Customs and to the beneficiaries. The process of administering an estate can be quite time-consuming and sometimes daunting.

But don’t worry. You can do probate yourself. Lawpack’s DIY Probate Kit has been written by probate experts to help guide you through the process.

Read our article to find out if you can do probate yourself.

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