Duties of Executors and Your Will - England & Wales, UK Legal Info.

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Duties of Executers and your Will, the Probate Registries - England & Wales

Duties of Executors - England and Wales

by: Martin Goldstraw

Initial Duties 

1. Register the death of the Testator. Obtain copies of the death certificate - several may be required not only before the funeral takes place but also for each of the funds that may have to be released or transferred e.g. bank accounts, insurance policies, shares and other equities. Try to gauge how many copies are needed. Many organisations will need sight of an original Death Certificate before releasing funds. Copies obtained from the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages are regarded as 'originals' as opposed to a photocopy of the certificate. 

2.  Arrange the funeral. The cost will usually be the first expense paid for from the deceased's estate. Make enquiries about the existence of a prepaid funeral plan - these are becoming increasingly  popular amongst retired people wishing to guard against the effects of inflation. If a Testator does decide to purchase a funeral plan Executors should be informed immediately and given the location of the relevant documents. 

3. Apply for a Grant of Probate via the nearest Probate Registry. 

4. Arrange to open a  Personal Representative's bank account. This will be used for the receipt of money due to the Estate and any loan arranged to pay an Inheritance Tax bill and/or probate fees. 

5. Inform all relevant persons and organisations - banks, building societies, life assurance companies, employers, local authorities, Inland Revenue, benefit agencies etc. 

6. Arrange for a valuation of the Estate. This will include the house and its contents, other personal effects, investments in savings plans, equities, life policies, building societies etc. Draw up a detailed schedule of all the Testator's assets. 

7. Draw up a full schedule of debts that must be paid from the proceeds of the Estate. These will include mortgages, income and capital gains taxes, bills, credit cards, loans and overdrafts. 

8. Complete the forms required by the Inland Revenue Capital Taxes Office so that it can be established whether any Inheritance Tax is due. 

9. Complete the probate forms and send or take them to the Probate Office along with the original Will, the death certificate and the Inland Revenue account. 

Subsequent Duties 

1. Provided that the case is fairly straightforward, an appointment will be made for the personal representative to 'swear the papers' within about 5 - 6 weeks of receipt at the Probate Office 

2. When Inheritance Tax is due the Executor's account of the Estate is passed to the Inland Revenue and the Grant of Probate cannot be issued until the tax is paid. There will be circumstances where part of the Estate has to be sold to pay Inheritance Tax and if this is the case banks can arrange loan facilities to pay the tax straight away. 

3. Copies of the Grant of Probate should be sent to everyone who owes money to the Estate. The Executors now have a legal authority to pursue any debts owing to the Estate. 

4. When the Grant of Probate is received, the Estate can be divided according to the terms of the Will. The Executor must prepare and sign accounts showing who has received what from the distribution. They must be able to show that they acted in accordance with the terms of the  Will in case there is any dissent from the family of the deceased. 

5 . All papers, including the Grant of Probate and the accounts must be stored safely for a period of 12 years.  

Probate Registries 

Telephone numbers for District Probate Registries in England & Wales


Bangor; 01248 362 410

Birmingham; 0121 681 3400

Bodmin; 01208 72279

Brighton; 01273 684 071

Bristol; 0117 927 3915

Cardiff; 01222 376 479

Carlisle; 01228 21751

Carmarthen; 01267 236 238

Chester; 01244 345 082

Exeter; 01392 74515

Gloucester; 01452 522 585

Ipswich; 01473 253 724

Lancaster; 01524 36625

Leeds; 0113 243 1505

Leicester; 0116 253 8558

Lincoln; 01522 523 648

Liverpool; 0151 236 8264

London; 0171 936 6983

Maidstone; 01622 754 966

Manchester; 0161 834 4319

Middlesborough; 01642 340 001

Newcastle-upon-Tyne; 0191 261 8383

Norwich; 01603 761 776

Nottingham; 0115 941 4288

Oxford; 01865 241 163

Peterborough; 01733 62802

Sheffield; 0114 272 9920

Stoke-on-Trent; 01782 213 736

Winchester; 01962 863 771

York; 01904 624 210


Related Articles

Grant of Probate

Will Your Business Survive Your Death

Rules of Intestacy

About The Author

Martin Goldstraw is the principal of a legal services company and specialises in Wills and Estate Planning. You are advised to seek proper legal advice before writing a Will. All laws cited in this article are based upon English Law. martin@goldstraw.org.uk

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