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Top Tips for Executors

An executor has a range of responsibilities, including registering the death, obtaining a copy of the will, arranging the funeral, and distributing the estate to the beneficiaries. It can be a demanding and time-consuming job, especially considering that it often occurs during a difficult time after the loss of a loved one. Many people who have taken on this role have expressed various challenges:

  • They were not fully aware of the extent of the responsibilities when they accepted.
  • They underestimated the magnitude of the task and felt overwhelmed.
  • They found the process to be time-consuming.
  • They had no idea where to begin.
  • Emotionally, being an executor was challenging.
  • They were unaware that the executor was responsible for settling outstanding debts of the deceased.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, our experienced team is here to assist you at any stage of the process.

We often receive instructions when an executor is concerned about the tax implications of the estate. Ensuring the deceased's tax affairs are properly concluded is one of the executor's duties, and with rising interest rates, it is important to be mindful of accruing interest. Dealing with tax regulations can be complex, but our experienced team can help apply any relevant allowances and transferable allowances to minimize any inheritance tax that may be owed. By adhering to deadlines and correctly managing taxes, we have saved many clients thousands of pounds.

Top 10 tips for executors

We have prepared some helpful tips to assist you if you have been appointed as an executor.

Get organised: It is crucial to have a thorough discussion with the testator (the person whose estate you will be managing) to fully understand the contents of their estate. It is also important to know the whereabouts of their Will, their bank accounts, investments, insurance policies, and other pertinent information. To simplify this process, we have created a "Helpful Notes for my Executors" form for the testator to complete, which contains all the essential information the executor will need. If you would like a copy of this form, please contact our team.

Register the death and arrange the funeral: In the UK, a person's death must be registered within five days, and their GP should be notified. We recommend obtaining several certified copies of the death certificate upfront to avoid additional costs later on. If you are handling the estate without the assistance of a solicitor, you may need a copy for each company involved, such as banks, insurance providers, and pension providers. It is also beneficial to discuss the testator's funeral wishes, including preferences for flowers or donations, which can also be included in the "Helpful Notes for my Executors" form.

Inform the relevant authorities: Contact organisations such as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to inform them of the deceased person's passing. The Tell us Once service enables you to notify most government organisations at once. Please visit for further information.

Valuing the estate: You will need to value the estate of the person who has died. This includes all property, possessions and money (minus any debts such as mortgage, loans and bills). It is important that you check how the assets were held as joint assets may form part of the estate. If the estate is likely to be taxable to Inheritance Tax, or is close to being taxable, then it is important to obtain proper valuations open market valuations to submit to HMRC.

Cancel unnecessary expenses: As an executor, it is your responsibility to protect the estate's assets. To fulfil this duty, it is important to cancel any unnecessary expenses that may deplete the deceased person's accounts. Even seemingly small expenses can accumulate quickly. Cancelling services such as home phones, mobile phones, magazine subscriptions, club memberships, television subscriptions, and internet services promptly can help safeguard the estate's finances.

Inheritance tax considerations: Inheritance tax may be applicable if the estate's value exceeds the £325,000 threshold. There are specific allowances, such as the transferable Nil Rate Band Allowance, the Residence Nil Rate Band Allowance and the transferable Residence Nil Rate Band Allowance that can be applied. It is crucial to obtain accurate valuations for high-value assets like houses or stock market investments to avoid potential penalties and compliance checks by HMRC

Settle any debts: Before you settle the estate, you must pay any outstanding tax, debts or bills.

Be mindful of potential claims: It is important to wait a minimum of six months from the date of the Grant of Probate and potentially a further four months to allow for any claims against the estate under legislation from disappointed beneficiaries.

Manage online accounts: Since so much of our lives is now digital, the executor must have access to various online accounts that the deceased person might have had. These can include banking sites like Paypal, auction sites like eBay, and social networking sites such as Facebook and X. Even email accounts need to be accessed and handled respectfully by the executor.

Keep beneficiaries updated: Frequent communication with beneficiaries is crucial. They want to be reassured that the estate is being taken care of, and regular updates can ease any worries or inform them of any delays. Remember that everyone involved, especially those named in the will, wants to be kept in the loop. Even a quick update can go a long way in letting everyone know what's happening.

Seek professional advice: We offer tailored support to executors of an estate at any stage. From interpreting a Will, obtaining a grant of probate or letter of administration or dealing with legal complexities in the estate, we are here to help.

Contact our team on 01926 354704 or email

Team members

Sarah Hood
Probate Executive

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