The role of an Executor or Administrator

"It is permissible to appoint up to four executors, although they will need to be able to work together. Executors must be over 18, have mental capacity and must not be a beneficiary of the will."


If there is a will the deceased’s estate will be dealt with by the Executor. If there is not a will it will be dealt with by an Administrator. Please see other guides on website for more information.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Ascertaining the whereabout of the will (if applicable)
  • Informing all institutions where the deceased held assets of the death
  • Obtain proper valuations of all assets, debts and liabilities of the deceased at the date of death
  • Complete inheritance tax returns on the basis of the information obtained
  • Pay any inheritance tax due
  • Apply for grant of probate (if there is a will) or letters of administrations (if there is not a will)
  • When the grant of probate or letter of administration is issued, collect in the assets of the deceased and pay the debts and liabilities of the estate
  • Transfer particular assets to the beneficiaries, pay the relevant legacies and distribute the residue to the beneficiaries
  • Prepare detailed estate accounts

Executors or Administrators must always act in the best interest of the beneficiaries of the estate even if this is contrary to their own personal interests.

It is permissible to appoint up to four executors, although they will need to be able to work together. Anyone can be an Executor provided they are over 18 and have mental capacity.

If the Executor does not want to carry out their duties, they can “renounce” their position. They can only do this if they have not started dealing with the estate. Another option is that they could get “power reserved” – this means they take a back seat in the day-to-day administration but still have the authority as an executor.

Professional Estate Administrator

For most people, administrating an estate is an entirely new experience. It can also be very challenging if the estate is large, complex or in dispute.

A professional executor (such as a solicitor) may therefore be appointed as an executor or the lay executor(s) may choose to appoint a professional Estate Administrator to assist them and/or offer advice.

A professional estate administrator will have professional knowledge and expertise in estate administration and, if appointed as executor will take on the liability for ensuring the estate is being administered correctly.

The cost of appointing a professional estate administrator will be deducted from the estate funds.