The Role of an Executor

The role of executor in probate

Applying for a Grant of Probate can be an upsetting process.  The role of an Executor is a very responsible one and is not to be taken on lightly.

Executors are responsible for closing any bank accounts, paying any Inheritance Tax due, any existing debts, collecting in the assets and distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the will. This can be quite a daunting prospect especially at a sad time. Executors may be unclear as to the extent of their duties are or even exactly what Probate is. So…

What is Probate?

In essence, a Grant of Probate is a legal document which confirms that the Executor has the authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets (property, money and belongings). This is called ‘administering the estate’ and the Grant of Probate usually has to be provided to the deceased’s bank and other financial institutions to enable the accounts to be closed and the funds released.

A Grant of Probate is also required if there is a property to be sold.

If you have been named as an Executor in someone’s Will, you have various options. You can either apply for the Grant of Probate in person, or you can instruct a solicitor to deal with the Probate application and administration of the estate on your behalf.

We have a blog that goes into more detail about Probate here if you would like further information.

Assets and Debts

The Executor needs to determine what assets and debts if any, the deceased had at the date of  death. To do this, a thorough search of the deceased’s paperwork should be carried out to determine the extent of their assets, income and liabilities.

It is important that any debts owed by the deceased are identified and paid from the estate, together with any Inheritance Tax and specific legacies to individuals or charities, before the balance is distributed between the residuary beneficiaries.

Applying for Probate/Letters of Administration

The application for the Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration if there is no Will) is submitted to the Probate Registry which is part of the Court service.  

Executor in probate

What if I Don’t Want to be an Executor?

It is understandable that you may have concerns about accepting the role of an Executor.  If you do not wish to act as an Executor, you have the following options:-


You can ‘renounce’ Probate.  This means that you can completely give up all of your rights as an Executor, as long as you have not ‘intermeddled’ in the estate, i.e. handling the deceased’s assets.  This can be done by signing a Deed of Renunciation which is lodged with the Probate Registry.

Power Reserved

Alternatively, you can opt to have ‘power reserved’ which means that you are not giving up all of your rights as an Executor, but you are content for another named Executor to apply for the Grant of Probate without your involvement.  Should you wish to apply for the Grant of Probate in your own name at some stage in the future, you are able to do so.

To contact us for more information, please call us on 0800 614 722 or request a call back here.

For more blogs about probate, please click here.