What are the duties of an executor?

When someone writes a will, they must name an executor to be responsible for administering their estate and sorting out their affairs after their death. Many people choose to name their children as executors as well as beneficiaries of the will. Being an executor is an important job because it means that you can ensure your loved one’s wishes are carried out when they are no longer here. This guide will explain the responsibilities of an executor from start to finish.

For free initial advice call our advisors or request a callback and we will contact you.
Your guide to Probate

Part 1

Registering the death

The first thing that an executor should do after someone has died is registering the death. If you are the executor of the will but you are not related to the person who died, you should ask a family member to register the death. This needs to be done within five days of the death in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In Scotland you have eight days.

To register a death, you should get in touch with your local register office and book an appointment. This should only take around 30 minutes and you will leave with a death certificate, which gives you permission to arrange the funeral.

Registering the death

Part 2

Arranging the funeral

If you are the executor of the will, you should first obtain and copy and read it in order to determine whether your loved one had any specific wishes for their funeral. Once you have obtained a death certificate and read the will, you can begin the funeral arrangements.

Arranging the funeral

Part 3

Protecting the estate and notifying organisations

Before you can begin the probate process, you must ensure that the value of the estate is protected. This involves accessing the property and ensuring that it is totally secure and all valuable assets such as jewellery and watches are in your possession to avoid the risk of them being stolen.

After securing the property, you should get in contact with a number of different organisations to let them know of the death so that they can take the necessary steps to protect funds and cancel services. For example, you should notify all banks that your loved one had an account with so that they can freeze their accounts to prevent any more payments being taken from their funds.

Below is a list of the different organisations and professionals that you should notify in the first few weeks after the death:

  • Government departments (use the governments Tell Us Once service online to notify all relevant departments at the same time)
  • Banks
  • Insurance providers
  • Pension providers
  • Employer
  • Mortgage provider (or landlord, house association, or council housing office)
  • Gas, electricity, water, TV, and Internet providers
  • Bereavement Register
  • Building societies
  • Stocks and shares companies
  • Premium bonds providers
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Store card providers
  • GP, dentist, and optician
  • Social services or carers
Protecting the estate and notifying organisations

Part 4

Calculating the value of the estate

When your loved one’s assets are secure and you have notified the relevant organisations, you should begin valuing their estate. This involves calculating the value of their assets, such as bank accounts, property, debts, taxes owed, stocks and shares, life insurance policies, and pension funds. You might find an inventory of your loved one’s assets in their will, which will speed up this process significantly.

If the value of the assets is below £10,000 or they did not own any property, it is unlikely that you will need to apply for probate. Probate is required after around half of all deaths in the UK.

Calculating the value of the estate

Part 5

Applying for probate

If you have determined that you require probate, the next step will be filling out application forms. If your loved one left a will, the form you need to submit to the probate registry is called PA1P. If they did not leave a will, the form is known as PA1A. In addition to the initial probate form, you will need to submit a tax form regardless of whether inheritance tax is due.

If you choose to apply for probate without hiring a professional to help you, it will cost you £215 plus £1.50 for each copy of the grant of probate. It is recommended that you buy several copies in order to speed along the estate administration process, as you will need to send official copies of this grant to a number of different organisations.

It usually takes around 30 days for a probate application to be approved. However, if you submit your form with any errors it could be delayed significantly. This is particularly true now as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a backlog of applications for the probate registry to work through.

When your application has been approved by the registry, all copies of the grant of probate that you ordered will be sent to you by post and you can begin handling the estate.

Applying for probate

Part 6

Handling the estate

When you have your copies of the grant of probate, you have legal permission to handle the estate. This means that you can distribute their assets to the beneficiaries listed in the will and it might also include doing things like selling property, closing bank accounts, claiming on life insurance policies, and paying off debts and taxes. This process usually takes anywhere from three months to one year depending on the size and complexity of the estate.

Part 7

Can the executor get professional help with the probate process?

Many people find the probate process to be complicated, time-consuming, and tiring, especially as it follows the death of a loved one and they are likely to be grieving. If you think this might be relevant to you, there are several ways in which you can get professional help with your application. The most common ways are hiring a solicitor or a professional probate service such as Kwil.

At Kwil, we offer a grant-only service and a full estate administration service. If you are unsure about filling out complicated legal and financial forms without making a mistake, you might appreciate our grant-only service. If you choose to hire us, our legal team will fill out the forms for you, ensuring that no errors are made, and your application is approved in a little time as possible so you can get on with administering the estate. This service costs £595 for smaller estates, or £999 for more complex ones, plus the £155 fee for registering for probate (which is reduced from £215 when you hire a professional service) and £1.50 for each copy of the will.

If you are a busy professional with little free time or have children to look after, or if you simply don’t want the stress of having to value and sell property and distribute funds, you might opt for our full estate administration service. If you choose full estate administration, we will value your loved one’s estate, obtain a grant of probate, and distribute the assets and funds within the estate according to the will. This means that you don’t need to worry about making any mistakes or having all of your free time consumed by probate. If this service interests you, you can call us for a free quote, and we can talk you through it in more detail.

Can the executor get professional help with the probate process?

For free initial advice call our advisors or request a callback and we will contact you.