Skip navigation


Everyone making a will needs to appoint executors to carry out the wishes of the will including obtaining probate and distributing the estate. Perhaps you have been asked to be an executor and wonder what it will entail.

This section looks at all the implications of being an executor and winding up an estate. Click on the subject you want to read about or scroll down:

The role of an executor

Being asked to be an executor is an honour; the person appointing you knows you can be trusted to carry out their wishes. It can also be a huge task, even if the estate is simple.

Executors are expected to fulfil the terms of the will, including the distribution of bequests. This can be straightforward and easy. It can also be complicated, for example if bequests are to people living abroad or if specified items cannot be found.

For some, the role might also include organising the funeral and winding down the affairs of the person who has died. From cancelling milk and paper deliveries, to informing utility suppliers, to notifying financial institutions so they release savings and investments, to settling outstanding bills, to identifying and finding assets, to informing government departments, to applying for probate, to selling property.

The process involves a lot of bureaucracy and a large amount of time - often in office hours. Everything must be done efficiently and as swiftly as possible.

Executors should be trustworthy and responsible. Solicitors often act as executors and may be named in the will. Many executors appoint a solicitor to make an application for a grant of probate on their behalf. If you would like our help, please let us know.

Solicitor Chiswick, West London: Wills, Probate, Inheritance Tax, Conveyancing

Appointing an executor[ TOP ]

The role of executor can be demanding, particularly if your estate is complex or if you want to make numerous bequests. You need to choose someone who will have the time to do the necessary work. Just as importantly, you need to choose someone who leaves you in no doubt they will carry out your wishes.

Often people choose a family member - their husband, wife, legal partner, an adult child or other relation - and this can be the simplest and most sensible option. However, do bear in mind that people react differently - sometimes illogically or irrationally - after a trauma such as a death. While there may be quibbles over who should have what (if the will is not specific) you need to avoid quarrels which turn into disputes.

It is not unusual for people to have two or more executors, one of whom may be their solicitor; this gives added assurances that the directions in the will will be appropriately followed.

Solicitor Chiswick, West London: Wills, Probate, Inheritance Tax, Conveyancing

Obtaining probate when someone has died[ TOP ]

When someone dies leaving assets over a certain amount the institutions holding that property (or people buying or inheriting it) will need proof that it can be passed on. Showing them the will and death certificate is not enough; you will need a grant of probate or letters of administration.

Applying for probate, or letters of administration, can be straightforward; for simple estates you may want to do this yourself. If an estate is complicated or very large, we advise you to seek professional help.

Personal applications can be made but may require an interview. The process varies. What can be time-consuming is amassing the information needed to make the application.

Informing organisations about the person's death, tracking down policies, arranging probate valuations of assets, and many other tasks usually have to be done during office hours - when you might be at work. The probate meeting also takes time during the day and, if there are queries about the will, you may be asked to bring one or more of the witnesses to the will with you.

We have extensive experience of organising and making applications for probate and can take this task on if the estate is complicated or if you don't have time to do it yourself.

Solicitor Chiswick, West London: Wills, Probate, Inheritance Tax, Conveyancing [ TOP ]