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Duties and responsibilities of executors and personal representatives

View profile for Michael Dunville
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At Hancock Quins, we have prepared an overview of the duties and responsibilities of executors and personal representatives to assist clients who are deciding whom to appoint as executors in their wills and for clients who are undertaking the administration of an estate.

The duties of a personal representative will vary depending on the administrative powers given to them in a will (or by law if the deceased has died without leaving a will), the nature of the assets in the estate and the beneficiaries of an estate. Their role is as follows:

Immediately following the death:

  • to register the death and organise the funeral if no family members are able to do so;
  • to secure and take into their custody or control all assets of the deceased, including arranging for notification to be given to any banks or savings institutions to reduce risk of unauthorised withdrawals;
  • taking all steps to safeguard any house or flat owned by the deceased; and
  • to ensure the property is insured and the insurers have been notified of the situation.

Next steps:

  • to arrange for the assets to be valued and to obtain details of the deceased’s debts and liabilities;
  • submit a detailed account of the deceased’s assets and liabilities to HM Revenue & Customs and pay any inheritance tax due; and
  • apply for a grant of representation.

Once the grant has been issued:

  • realise the assets;
  • pay the deceased’s debts, including income tax and the balance of any inheritance tax;
  • to divide the balance in accordance with any will, or in strict accordance with the rules on intestacy, and to transfer to any beneficiary assets left to them specifically;
  • to provide accounts to all beneficiaries as to the value of the estate, detailing transactions made during its administration;
  • to ensure tax returns are made and the tax paid to cover the duration of the administration.

The law imposes responsibilities on a personal representative which can be complex and time consuming and for which, unless they are a professional carrying out his or her normal professional duties, they normally cannot be paid.  The time spent dealing with even a simple estate can, when added together, amount to several full weeks.

Instructing Hancock Quins to deal with the administration of an estate enables the personal representatives both to devote time to their own lives, as well as ensuring that the estate is properly administered.

For more advice about the duties and responsibilities of executors and personal representatives, contact Ben Jones on 01923 650852 or email

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.