Probate : Duties of an Executor

Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors

The role of executor is onerous and a testator should carefully consider who they wish to appoint as executor in their will. One executor is sufficient but it is advisable to appoint more than one.

Duties of an Executor

The role of executor is onerous and a testator should carefully consider who they wish to appoint as executor in their will. One executor is sufficient but it is advisable to appoint more than one.

It is important to note that an executor derives his authority to act from the will with the assets of the estate automatically vesting in the executor at the date of the testators death.

An Executor once appointed does not have to act and can accept, reserve or renounce his position however if an executor accepts his appointment then once a Grant of Probate issues the executor cannot renounce without the consent of the High Court.

Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors have set out the primary duties of an executor below. It should be noted that this list is not exhaustive and particular issues will arise depending on the estate itself:

  • Arranging the funeral of the deceased. Ensure that the wishes of the deceased are given effect to in so far as they relate to funeral. The deceased should be buried in a manner suitable to the estate which he/she leaves behind him/her. In most instances in practice all of this will have already been arranged and dealt with by the deceased’s family. The Executor should also ensure that a death certificate is obtained by next of kin.


  • Identify and gather the assets of the estate. Care must be taken to properly identify all assets of the estate. Generally it is easier to identify assets such as property and bank accounts however a full investigation is required by the executor to ensure all assets are identified. Correspondence in the deceased person’s possession at the time of death will assist in this regard.  It may be necessary to conduct a number of searches with various financial institutions, and in addition, if the deceased person lived abroad during their lives it may be wise to carry out investigations in those countries also.


  • The executor must ensure that the assets of the estate are properly protected. The Executor has a duty to insure all assets normally requiring insurance, such as a house or land or other valuable items i.e. jewellery, house contents etc.


  • The executor must ensure that all debts and liabilities owed by the deceased at the time of death are accounted for and paid out of the estate including funeral expenses. There are legal requirements which may be required including the placing of public advertisements.  Legal advice should be sought in complex or valuable estates as the Executor could be held personally liable for the debts if proper procedures are not followed.

  • The executor must trace all of the beneficiaries outlined in the deceased person’s Will. Furthermore the executor must make enquiries of all beneficiaries in relation to prior gifts/inheritances received by them as he will be secondarily liable for any Capital Acquisitions Tax . It is also essential that the Executor obtain details of the beneficiaries PPS numbers.

  • With the assistance of a Valuer, where required, the executor must ensure that a value of the deceased person’s estate is arrived at.  When all enquiries have been made  and full details of all assets, liabilities and beneficiaries have been established a schedule of all the assets and liabilities of the deceased must be prepared. This is an official document known as an Inland Revenue Affidavit and has to be to sworn by the executor along with several other relevant documents and declarations.


  • When all of the required papers have been lodged in the Probate Office, a Grant of Probate will subsequently issue.

  • After Grant of Probate has issued, the executor must distribute the assets in accordance with the  Will. The executor must also ensure that all taxes due are paid.

  • Finally the executor must furnish an administration account wherein he accounts for all monies received and all monies distributed during the administration. Beneficiaries are entitled to see these accounts under the law.

  • As mentioned above the duties of an executor can be onerous. Should you require legal advice in relation to your position as executor or wish to appoint a solicitor in an estate please contact Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors for expert advice in this area.
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