Understanding an Executors Role

When a person dies someone must take charge of the deceased’s assets and “administer the estate”. If the deceased left a will, then the executor named in the will is responsible for looking after the estate. If there is no will, then the next of kin normally gets the job.

The job of “executor”, or “administrator”, comes with many responsibilities. If you get proper, expert legal advice the job is normally not at all difficult . However, the executor or administrator’s role can become difficult and can be potentially risky if there is going to be a challenge to the will or a claim against the estate.

When a will is challenged, or a claim is made against an estate, it is the executor or administrator who gets sued. They must then:-

  • Notify all the beneficiaries and suggest that they each get independent legal advice; 

  • Take the necessary action to protect the assets and earn income on them while the challenge is ongoing; 

  • Collect evidence with the aim of defeating the challenge or claim; 

  • Hold the assets until the dispute is resolved; and 

  • Obtain expert legal advice on how to uphold the will without unnecessarily incurring excessive expenses. 

  • If an executor or administrator does not fulfill their duties by protecting the interests of the beneficiaries, or if they are negligent, then they risk being personally liable and may be required to pay compensation from their own assets. 

Therefore if you are an executor or administrator you must never simply hope that a dispute will go away. You should contact us immediately so that we can advise you on how to uphold the will and avoid personal liability.

If a person close to you has died with or without a will, there should be no delay in following the proper legal channels to protect the estate assets. Call us for practical plain language advice on how to carry out your role as executor.