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Everything you need to know about the role of the executor

What should the executor be doing and what can I do if they're failing banner

Executors are those people, appointed by a will usually, legally responsible for administering an estate in accordance with a deceased’s persons wishes, as per the terms of their will.  

The executors have many jobs to do including:

  • Collecting the deceased’s assets
  • Paying their liabilities
  • Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries, including paying any tax that is due, and applying for probate.

What is an executor legally obligated to do?

The executors are legally obligated to ensure the estate is handled properly.

They have several duties they must comply with including:

  • Putting the interests of the beneficiaries first
  • Keeping and maintaining appropriate records of expenses, liabilities and assets
  • Ensuring there are no unnecessary delays
  • Preserving and protecting assets 
  • Ensuring assets are sold for market value

Taking legal advice

As an executor, it is advisable to obtain legal advice before taking any action.

You can instruct a solicitor to act for you, at the estate’s expense.

There may be issues when you’re the beneficiary of an estate but aware that the executors are not complying with their legal duties. 

Perhaps they are not providing you with information.

They may have allowed the deceased’s property to be unprotected or have failed to keep a record of their own expenses which appear to be unreasonable.

A solicitor who deals with probate litigation can assist.

They will first of all try to correspond with the executors and obtain the relevant information. 

If matters cannot be resolved, it may be necessary to apply to court for the removal of an executor.

A new executor can then be appointed instead.

This could be a professional who is better placed to act in the estate. 

This step is only appropriate when the circumstances justify an application, such as the executor’s unsuitability due to dishonesty or actions that have resulted in the estate suffering an unjustified loss. 

It may be possible to claim your legal costs back, personally from the executors, too.


In most circumstances, solicitor intervention will help to resolve the matter.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re not getting anywhere with the executors of an estate you have an interest in, do contact us now to arrange a free initial consultation.  

Katy Rider, an Associate member of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), acts for many clients in this situation and will provide you with practical and reliable advice.

Call 01772 799 600.

Article by Katy Rider


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