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Executor and administrator role

This information may be helpful to you if you are involved with the person that owns the estate or want to find out more about entitlements and pensions upon their death.

The money, possessions, and property of someone who has died is called their ‘estate’. When a person dies, somebody has to deal with their ‘estate’, which involves collecting their money, property, and possessions, paying any debts, and then distributing the estate to those entitled to it. 

An executor is chosen by someone before they die to deal with their estate and is appointed by being named in their Will. The executor’s authority is taken from the Will and comes into effect immediately upon the person’s death. More than one person can be named in the Will but not all have to act. An executor may have to apply for special legal authority before they can deal with the estate and this is called ‘probate’. It is important to note that the executor is not necessarily the person appointed as Lasting Power of Attorney for property and finances.  

An administrator is appointed by the court to deal with the estate administration in the following situations:

  1. There is ‘intestacy’. This means the person has died without making a Will.
  2. The Will is invalid
  3. There is a Will but there is no executor alive or willing to act.

Where there is a Will, but no executor is appointed or able to act, the administrator will be someone with an interest in the estate. “Letters of administration with Will annexed” will need to be applied for.

Where there is no valid Will, an administrator is usually next of kin or a close relative, in order of priority as follows: spouse or civil partner, children, parents, brother or sister, and other relatives. ‘Letters of administration” will need to be applied for.

Although there are exceptions, note it is against the law to start sharing out the estate or to get money from the estate until the executor or administrator have probate or letters of administration.

Find more information on When you may not need to apply for probate or letters of administration.

Key duties of the executor or administrator include:

  1. Registering the death
  2. Getting copies of the Will 
  3. Organising the funeral  
  4. Valuing the estate 
  5. Taking responsibility for property and post 
  6. Applying for probate or letters of administration
  7. Sorting out finances 
  8. Distributing the estate 
  9. Paying any Inheritance Tax 
  10. Dealing with any assets 

For more details about these duties, Age UK has a range of information.