Home > Executorships > What is an Executor?

What is an Executor?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 23 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Executor Execute Will Deceased Probate

The process of writing and interpreting a will seems simple to begin with; surely it is just a case of deciding who should inherit your property, and then putting it in writing? Unfortunately, from the very beginning of the process, making a will involves a string of legal terms and often confusing jargon. One of the most fundamental of these terms (and, usefully, one of the simplest) is 'executor'. This describes the most important individual to be named in the will, and it is therefore important to understand exactly what the term means.

In its broadest sense, the legal and literal meanings of the word are much the same; the executor is simply one who executes, or carries out, a task. In the case of a will, the executor is the individual who is charged with carrying out the tasks outlined by the writer.

Complex Tasks

The directions given in the will may well be complicated and, as such, the executor may have many and varied tasks to carry out. The most important of these is likely to be the disbursement of the deceased individual's estate to the beneficiaries named in the will.

Before this can be done, however, the executor will also be required to arrange for payment of the deceased's remaining debts to be made, and to deal with outstanding claims from creditors. Furthermore, they will be required to calculate and pay tax which might be owed from the estate. Normally the largest such outlay will be inheritance tax, but there may be further unpaid sums which must be accounted for. Another key part of the job of executor is to seek out any other possible heirs, and to assess any claim they might have to part of the estate. Finally, they will be responsible for any other arrangements stipulated in the will, such as donations to charity.

Personal Representative

An executor can also be known as a personal representative; they legally represent the deceased's estate and, as such, assume various rights and responsibilities. In most cases the executor can be sued on behalf of the estate, making it a less than enticing post if the deceased's affairs are not entirely in order. It should also be noted that the executor automatically acquires the title to any property which falls within the estate. In this way, they act as the owner of any property to which a life tenant has a claim. The executor may not, of course, use these titles for their own benefit, unless this is explicitly provided for in the will.

The post of executor is a difficult one and, as such, it is sometimes the case that, upon the death of the writer of the will, the appointed executor no longer feels capable of discharging their duties. In these cases, or in cases of intestacy, an administrator may be appointed instead. This individual will take on the same responsibilities, but will have to apply for Letters of Administration in order to acquire legal authority.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Lou - Your Question:
My dad passed away and I got told that two of my sisters have my dad's will and neither of them will tell me if I am in the will or not I keep asking but get no reply please help.

Our Response:
If a Will exists, the named executor has to contact all the beneficiaries and send them a copy of the Will. If you are concerned, a probate solicitor should be able to help you.
TheWillExpert - 26-Jun-17 @ 11:51 AM
My dad passed away and I got told that two of my sisters have my dad's will and neither of them will tell me if I am in the will or not I keep asking but get no reply please help .
Lou - 23-Jun-17 @ 12:56 PM
My dad left money to my sister but she has passed away before I can get probate sorted. Where does her money go now. She was married and had a daughter. I have no contact with her husband and daughter.
Lilly - 11-Jun-17 @ 6:44 PM
GG - Your Question:
I am an executor of a will for an old spinster lady. All her estate has been left to her friend. I believe she may have a brother and sister who she has not seen for 10's of years. There is no record of there name and address in the house. Do I need to find them or just follow the instructions in the will?

Our Response:
If she has left a Will, your job as an executor is to carry out her wishes as described in that Will.
TheWillExpert - 30-May-17 @ 2:07 PM
I am an executor of a will for an old spinster lady.All her estate has been left to her friend. I believe she may have a brother and sister who she has not seen for 10's of years.There is no record of there name and address in the house. Do I need to find them or just follow the instructions in the will?
GG - 28-May-17 @ 8:31 AM
My brother and I were left equal shares o f my mothers house we are executer s of the will but my mother put a letter with the will that I should have first chance of the house if I bye him out but he won'tsell me his share and says he wants the house this against mams wishes what can I do.
Gc - 29-Apr-17 @ 11:43 AM
my mum left me a house that worth 60,000 and 4,000 in the bank will i have pay tax on thisand she given me 4,000 just befor she died to buy a car
maz - 30-Mar-16 @ 2:33 PM
my grandma made a willwhen i was 5yrs old and says her house had to be sold and put in trust till i was 25 but i am 27 and she just died and i get everything as they no one else but do the house have be sold as i over 25 now as i thinking of doing it up
paul - 30-Mar-16 @ 2:13 PM
Can an executor legally obtain details of a deceased's joint bank a/c which was held by her & a beneficiary but which was closed PRIOR to her death? Also can this executor carry out ANY actions as an executor if he has not even applied for probate?
tony - 19-Mar-16 @ 3:07 PM
My aunt passed away and a non family member states that everything was left to her and she is executor. How can we see a copy of the will if she will not produce one.
Estate - 17-Mar-16 @ 2:44 PM
Tallulah - Your Question:
My husband passed away last year leaving a will stipulating the properties that he owed were left to his children and I was to get the residue of the estate. Probate has been granted and IHT paid. The problem now is my stepchildren who were also named executors in the will are the delaying the process of this, for no apparent reason, the solicitor who is also executor insists that she is trying her best to resolve the issue but one of the executors are not responding to signing the that are required, What should I do to resolve this issue.

Our Response:
This is really for your solicitor to assist with. As a beneficiary you can request a copy of the accounts etc, so we suggest you do this for now. That should at least give you a clear picture of what's happening.
TheWillExpert - 7-Mar-16 @ 2:27 PM
I am the sole executor and beneficiaries of my late sons estate. I have on the recommendation of my solicitor Paid certain costs Funeral cost, Hire purchase cost of a vehicle , Accountants fees, A total paymentof £ 12,500,Because the estate is based on sale of a Business and a House, and is proving difficult to sell. My solicitor has told me that I cannot Claim any part of my £ 12,500 outlay, until all liabilities have paid ie- Inheritance Tax, And deptsIs this correct,Bert.
Bert - 7-Mar-16 @ 11:38 AM
My husband passed away last year leaving a will stipulating the properties that he owed were left to his children and I was to get the residue of the estate. Probate has been granted and IHT paid. The problem now is my stepchildren who were also named executors in the will are the delaying the process of this, for no apparent reason, the solicitor who is also executor insists that she is trying her best to resolve the issue but one of the executors are not responding to signing the that are required, What should I do to resolve this issue.
Tallulah - 4-Mar-16 @ 4:07 PM
L - Your Question:
My good friend left me executor to his and his wifes wills they made back to back wills. after his death the wifes half sisters husband has changed her will and cut me out of everything my friend left me. is there anything I can do to claim what he wanted me to have ?

Our Response:
Did the wife consent to the changes? If you think she has been coerced into changing her Will or someone has changed it fraudulently you should seek legal advice. Here is some information on challenging a Will.
TheWillExpert - 4-Feb-16 @ 12:55 PM
my good friend left me executor to his and his wifes wills they made back to back wills . after his death the wifes half sisters husband has changed her will and cut me out of everything my friend left me . is there anything I can do to claim what he wanted me to have ?
L - 3-Feb-16 @ 12:18 PM
My mother's partner passed away living a will which his sons were made executors. It was stated in the will that my mother was a beneficiary and was told she would receive notification once everything had been sorted. To date nothing has been passed to my mother nor have the executors of the will made contact. Please advise how this should be rectified.
jh2013 - 14-Jan-16 @ 2:33 PM
my mothers will states that all her jewelry at time of her death must be left to her daughter 'me' My brother as executorposted me the Jewelry and most of it isn't there nothing of value anyway I bought all my mothers jewelry for her I was ill in hospital when my mother died and during her funeral My brother states that all the jewelry that was left was sent to me and she must have given the rest away before she died what can I do?
mully - 8-Jan-16 @ 12:25 PM
I am curious regarding a will which I was told verbally that I would be included and her next door neighbour in it, as we were the ones helping her. The lady who died was 95 with no close family that she liked. she told me a few years previously that she had a solicitor to the house to make her will and she wanted a copy of my address. Yet I've contacted the solicitor who is also the excecutor and have been told very abruptly thatI'm not included, but I deeply believe that I would have been left something. I have requested a copy of her will from Gov UK to try to find out more. Any advice would be great as I am suspicious regarding the solicitor being excecutor.
Suz - 29-Dec-15 @ 7:13 PM
My father in law has left money in trust to my 2 children. We found out through a third party. The executor of the will has not informed us of anything. We have also tried to contact the solicitor with no joy too. The Executor will not speak to us. We now live in Canada so it is difficult to deal with anyway. What can we do to get information and can we decide where the funds would be kept in trust. We cant have her as the trustee as she will do everything possible to make it difficult.
Canadianowl - 23-Dec-15 @ 5:27 PM
Do I also need to give solicitor a copy of death cert even though he will not be needing a solicitor. To carryout his final wishes.
bids - 17-Dec-15 @ 12:25 PM
Dads bank acc only about 3thousand pound in it but still have a few bills to pay from that eg funeral expences. He had 2thousand in another acc which will pay for funeral .there is a nominee on this acc.as I am excetior a Am I allowed to see a copy of this, also do I need to check that no other changes have been done to origal will. Thanks
bids - 16-Dec-15 @ 4:21 PM
bids - Your Question:
Im an executor to my dads will all is left to me only small amount of money and personal belonging no probeerty or debt do I need to apply for Probate or do I get copy of will from solicitor. I have a copy of will.can I go ahead and close all accounts down.

Our Response:
The banks/building societies will have their own discretionary limit on whether they require grant of probate/confirmation. If your father had bank account or shares with a net value of over £15,000, or his home needs to be sold/transferredthen a grant of probate will be needed.
TheWillExpert - 16-Dec-15 @ 12:45 PM
Im an executor to my dads will all is left to me only small amount of money and personal belonging no probeerty or debt do I need to apply for Probate or do I get copy of will from solicitor. I have a copy of will.can I go ahead and close all accounts down.
bids - 15-Dec-15 @ 9:54 PM
Kevin - Your Question:
My father has stipulated in his will that the bulk of his estate should be put into trust with his three children as beneficiaries. None of us wants money to be tied up in trust as there are no grandchildren who can benefit from this arrangement. Can we simply divide the funds equally instead? To be clear, this is what all parties actually want, and there are no other beneficiaries who would suffer from this change. Thanks.

Our Response:
Find out why he has done this? It may be to do with Inheritance Tax etc.
TheWillExpert - 8-Dec-15 @ 11:40 AM
My father has stipulated in his will that the bulk of his estate should be put into trust with his three children as beneficiaries. None of us wants money to be tied up in trust as there are no grandchildren who can benefit from this arrangement. Can we simply divide the funds equally instead? To be clear, this is what all parties actually want, and there are no other beneficiaries who would suffer from this change. Thanks.
Kevin - 7-Dec-15 @ 4:48 PM
Jamie - Your Question:
We have a situation where a will writing company has a family will, knows the sole executor but is putting impediment after impediment in the way to releasing this will. I think they are hoping to capitalise on a clause that appoints them as sole executors if the afore mentioned executor is unwilling or feels unable to carry out the duties. What duty do they have to release a will to the executor or, at least, the Probate Registry? It will be very helpful to know what the law states on this. This company do not appear to be a member of the two will writing societies that set their members' standards.

Our Response:
Speak to a good probate solicitor. There are lots of unscrupulous "Will writing" companies still operating in the UK.
TheWillExpert - 3-Dec-15 @ 2:42 PM
We have a situation where a will writing company has a family will, knows the sole executor but is putting impediment after impediment in the way to releasing this will. I think they are hoping to capitalise on a clause that appoints them as sole executors if the afore mentioned executor is unwilling or feels unable to carry out the duties. What duty do they have to release a will to the executor or, at least, the Probate Registry? It will be very helpful to know what the law states on this. This company do not appear to be a member of the two will writing societies that set their members' standards.
Jamie - 1-Dec-15 @ 10:21 PM
Hi all @ Will Expert I am one of four brothers and when our last remaining parent passed away, the estate was left to two of the brothers only. I recently heard that, even though a will was written and one of the brothers given the position of executor; there was still a possible claim to the estate from the other family members, even though they were not mentioned in the will. Is this true? Thanks for your time in advance.
Gary - 7-Nov-15 @ 5:08 PM
My brother passed away recently, I flew back to UK to register his death and arrange the funeral. I subsequently found out that as his only direct relative ( as he never married nor had any children ) he did not leave me any part of the estate to me. He lived in the family home all his life upto him passing away, the house was signed over to him many years ago prior to my parents passing away, hence he lived free of charge in the house for over 60 yrs. he had a neighbour that regularly popped into see him and she was made an executor of his will along with the partner of my brothers solicitor. After being informed that my two daughters both married were mentioned in the will along with the executors ( neighbours ) children both still at school age hence the proceeds are to be divided between my two daughters and the executors 2 children, but nothing to me. He made a will out in hospital after he came out of a medical coma in ICU witnessed by the solicitor and one of the solicitors employers, my brother drank heavily and smoked very much hence he did not take care of himself and was constantly on liquid morphine as well as drinking whisky. Question can I contest the will as it was a family house and is being passed to strangers ie the executors 2 children as well as personal items of my parents in the house ie jewelry etc. can I claim also airfares for flying to UK for the registering of his death and expenses for staying in UK until the funeral was over.
Denis - 22-Oct-15 @ 6:55 PM
Nc - Your Question:
Our neighbour passed away last year and my father is the executor. He left the proceeds of the sale of his house to two charities. We are in the process of selling the property but are aware that several local builders are interested in the property. It has a large plot and all the neighbours are concerned that several houses will be built on the plot. One of our neighbours wants to buy the property to Iive in for ever. He is a local lad and our neighbour knew him well. We would like to sell it to him but he can only afford a certain amount, about 20k under the guide price. We are aware that executors have the final say but would there be repercussions from the charities? There is no other offers at this point and certainly no guarantee that it would sell for the guide price anyway. The market is very poor in this area.

Our Response:
Are there any specifications in the Will about how the house should be sold etc? The charities concerned mightsimply be grateful for the legacy - and they'd receive it sooner rather than later if the sale was conducted promptly etc. Check with the probate solicitor.
TheWillExpert - 22-Oct-15 @ 1:54 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • TheWillExpert
    Re: What is an Executor?
    Lou - Your Question:My dad passed away and I got told that two of my sisters have my dad's will and neither of them will tell me if I am in…
    26 June 2017
  • Lou
    Re: What is an Executor?
    My dad passed away and I got told that two of my sisters have my dad's will and neither of them will tell me if I am in the will or not I…
    23 June 2017
  • TheWillExpert
    Re: Debt After Death
    Apple - Your Question:Hie guys am new on here need some help please. My mom passed away in 2011 and I'm administrator of her estate I've received…
    20 June 2017
  • TheWillExpert
    Re: What Does Being an Executor of a Will Entail?
    Jan - Your Question:My Father made a joint will with my Mother. On his death she went back to the same…
    19 June 2017
  • Apple
    Re: Debt After Death
    Hie guys am new on here need some help please. My mom passed away in 2011 and I'm administrator of her estate I've received a tax refund cheque…
    18 June 2017
  • Jan
    Re: What Does Being an Executor of a Will Entail?
    My Father made a joint will with my Mother. On his death she went back to the same solicitor and they…
    15 June 2017
  • Lilly
    Re: What is an Executor?
    My dad left money to my sister but she has passed away before I can get probate sorted. Where does her money go now. She was married and had…
    11 June 2017
  • Jimbo
    Re: What Does Being an Executor of a Will Entail?
    My Mam was named executor of my step Dads will however she passed away first but my Mam named me has the…
    6 June 2017
  • JueDrop
    Re: What Does Being an Executor of a Will Entail?
    My dad passed away 3 years ago and left no will I have been to a solicitor we have been through probate and…
    30 May 2017
  • TheWillExpert
    Re: What is an Executor?
    GG - Your Question:I am an executor of a will for an old spinster lady. All her estate has been left to her friend. I believe she may have a…
    30 May 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the TheWillExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.