LIGHT BYTE - What it means to be an executor

An executor is the legal term for the person named in a Will to act as the deceased’s representative after death. An executor is responsible for gathering in the deceased’s assets, paying off debts and settling any Inheritance Tax liability (if any) before distributing the estate to those beneficiaries entitled under the terms of the Will.

You may have been asked to be an executor in someone’s Will or you may be considering who to appoint as executor in your own Will - but do you understand the importance of this role and the responsibilities and duties involved?

Who can be an executor of a Will?

Anyone over the age of 18 can act as an executor. There is no rule against beneficiaries in your will being named as your executors. You can appoint family members, friends or professionals to be your executor.

How many executors can you appoint?

You can appoint up to four executors in your Will. You can appoint just one executor, however it is often advisable to appoint at least two. This ensures the avoidance of a problem if one of the executors is unable to act through ill health or for some other reason.  Alternatively, you can appoint substitute executors.

What are the main duties of an executor?

  • Check the validity of the Will
  • Ascertain all the assets and liabilities of the estate
  • Locate unidentified assets and missing beneficiaries
  • Calculate and pay Inheritance Tax as necessary
  • Apply for the Grant of Probate
  • Sell or transfer any property, should it be required
  • Distribute the estate to the beneficiaries
  • Set up and manage trusts

Is there a legal responsibility when acting as an executor?

Yes. As an executor you are legally and personally responsible for administering the estate. The role of executor carries administrative, taxation and legal responsibility.

Do you have to act as executor if appointed in a Will?

No. You can renounce - provided that you have not already started dealing with the estate.

Can an executor appoint professionals to act on their behalf?

Yes, you can always ask for assistance from a professional if needed. If you would like any further information, please contact our Private Client Department -

Click here to read our extensive ‘Guidance Notes for Executors’ leaflet.


To find out more, call us on: 01603 625231