What are the executor’s duties?

The first thing you should do is find the original will. The first place to look is within your loved one’s papers. Whilst it may not be there, there may be a copy will giving you a clue as to where the original is held. This is often held with the local solicitors or a Bank or Building Society.

Once you have found the will, the executors are usually identified within the text of the will. As an executor you will need to:

  1. Collect in the assets of your loved one’s estate
  2. Pay the liabilities of the estate
  3. Distribute the estate in accordance with the will

After establishing the assets and liabilities, an application to the probate registry needs to be made, either by you personally or through a professional.

Forms and fees

You will need to submit an application form to the probate registry (PA1) and also an Inheritance Tax form (IHT205). Where there is tax to pay IHT400 must be completed. Download the Probate Forms.

The probate fees also need to be paid at this stage, which are £105 for personal applications, and £45 if made by a professional. Where the application is made personally, once the papers are received by the probate registry, the executor will have to attend an interview to swear an oath. There is no requirement for this where a professional makes the application. After that the grant of probate will be issued and posted to the applicant once the probate registry is satisfied with the validity of the application.

If there is no will, what are the administrators duties?

Where your loved one has not left a valid will, the estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, which sets out the order of entitlement to the estate.

As there is no will, your loved one has not identified any executors, and the estate will be administered by the next of kin, known as the administrators.

The order of priority for applying for letters of administration is:

  1. Husband, wife or civil partner
  2. Sons or daughters or their children
  3. Parents
  4. Sisters or brothers
  5. Grandparents
  6. Uncles or aunts

The applicant must also be over the age of 18.

How will the estate be distributed?

The distribution of the estate is set out in law, and unless the estate is very small, it is usually recommended to use a professional to assist as the rules can be complex.

If there is a surviving spouse

  1. But no children, parents, brothers or sisters or their children, the spouse will receive everything
  2. If there are children, the spouse receives the personal chattels, £250,000 and a life interest in half the remainder. The children get the other half immediately, but wait until the death of their remaining parent until they receive the outstanding half.
  3. If there are no children or grandchildren, but the deceased’s parents are alive, the surviving spouse receives the chattels, £450,000 and half the remainder. The surviving parents receive half the remainder also.

If there is no surviving spouse

  • If there is no surviving spouse, but children, they will share the estate equally
  • If there is no surviving spouse or children, the estate is then distributed amongst the relatives in the following order:
    1. Parents
    2. Brothers and sisters or their children
    3. Half-brothers and half-sisters or their children
    4. Grandparents
    5. Uncles and aunts or their children
    6. Half-uncles or half-aunts or their children
    7. The Crown



Once the decision has been made as to who will apply to the probate registry, the process is very similar to where there is a will present.