The person dealing with the estate of the person who has died is called an executor or an administrator. An executor is someone who is named in the will as responsible for dealing with the estate. An executor may have to apply for a special legal authority before they can deal with the estate. This is called probate.
An administrator is someone who is responsible for dealing with an estate under certain circumstances, for example, if there is no will or the named executors aren’t willing to act. An administrator has to apply for letters of administration before they can deal with an estate.
What does the executor or administrator do
The executor or administrator (also called the personal representative) takes responsibility for dealing with all of the estate. This involves:
finding all the financial documentation belonging to the person who died
sending a copy of the death certificate to the organisations that hold the money of the person who has died. Ask them for confirmation of the value of the money held at the date of death and the amount of income received during the last tax year up to the date of death. Also ask them to freeze the bank accounts so no one can take money out without the correct legal authority
opening a bank account on behalf of the estate
finding out details of money owed to the estate
finding out details of money owed by the person who has died
preparing a detailed list of the property, money and possessions and debts in the estate
working out the amount of inheritance tax due and arranging to pay it
preparing and sending off the documents required by the probate registry and HM Revenue and Customs
paying debts, expenses and fees, such as solicitors’ fees and probate fees
sharing out the estate, as set out in the will or according to the rules of intestacy.
If it appears that there are not enough assets in the estate to cover outstanding tax, expenses, bills and other liabilities, you should seek the advice of a solicitor. Administering an insolvent estate can be complicated.