What Power Does an Executor of a Will Have?


The Executor of a Will has the responsibility of sorting out someone’s Estate after they die. In many cases this includes applying for Probate and distributing any assets (property, savings and possessions) according to the wishes set out in the Will.

It’s an important job and there’s often a lot of work to be done. If there’s more than one Executor, then the Executors may choose to share the responsibility and split the duties up between them, or one Executor may decide to take on the role while others step back.

If you’re an Executor and you’d like professional help with applying for Probate, dealing with Inheritance Tax or administering an Estate, get in touch with our Probate Solicitors for expert legal advice and support.

We offer a friendly, no-obligation chat about your options.

Call us on 0808 239 4634 or request a callback

What an Executor Can and Cannot Do

The role of Executor is essential but there are things that an Executor can and cannot do.  

What Can an Executor Do?

The legal responsibilities of an Executor usually include:

  • Registering the death
  • Getting copies of the Will
  • Arranging the funeral if it’s been requested of them in the Will
  • Notifying banks, insurance and utility providers about the death
  • Applying for a Grant of Probate
  • Valuing the Estate assets
  • Paying any outstanding bills and debts
  • Calculating and paying any taxesg. Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains
  • Providing a complete set of Estate accounts
  • Contacting Beneficiaries
  • Distributing assets and funds to Beneficiaries according to the Will
  • Closing the Estate

As well as the above, Executors might have to make decisions about things that weren’t expressed in the Will. For example, who’s going to look after any pets that were left behind?

What Can’t an Executor Do?

There are a few things that Executors don’t have the authority to do, both before and during the Probate process.

Before Probate, an Executor cannot:

  • Start executing the Will before the Testator (creator of the Will) has died
  • Sign a Will on behalf of the Testator
  • Start administering the Estate before being officially appointed as Executor by law
  • Sell any property or assets

Once the Executor has applied for Probate, they cannot:

  • Amend any details in the Will
  • Remove other Executors from the Will (only the Court can do this)
  • Add more Executors to the Will
  • Stop Beneficiaries or other interested parties from contesting a Will
  • Refuse contact with Beneficiaries
  • Delay payments, unless there’s a legitimate reason by law
  • Steal any money or assets from the Estate
  • Sell assets for a lower value than what they’re worth and without the agreement of Beneficiaries

People will usually choose a close friend or family member who they trust as their Executor, and most Executors will act responsibly. However, if it is found that an Executor is mismanaging the Estate, this can have serious consequences, such as the Executor being forcibly removed by the Court. 

Dealing with a Difficult Executor

Sadly, Executor disputes happen. It might be that the Executor does not distribute the Estate after Probate, or you think they’re not handling the Estate properly, or they might be withholding the Will from you.

Sometimes you can resolve disputes through good communication with the Executor, and hopefully reach an agreement together.

But if you’re still having trouble with an Executor, you can either try mediation with a professional mediator, or in more serious cases, go to Court to get the Executor removed. Our Contentious Probate Solicitors can advise and support you with both of these.

Get in Touch

Whether you’re a Beneficiary having trouble with an Executor, or you’re an Executor who needs help applying for a Grant of Probate or Estate administration, we can help you.

Our expert Probate Solicitors offer a friendly and straightforward service, which can be tailored to your needs. Get in touch to see how we can help you.

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