A guide of what to do after someone dies

This guide is to provide practical information, to family members and friends, about what they need to do after someone dies. We understand that this can be a difficult and confusing time and we aim to help you understand the processes and procedures you ought to follow.
This guide is for England and Wales only

What is an Executor?
  • An Executor is a person who is appointed by the Testator (A Testator is a legal term for a person who has made a Will).
  • The Executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes and directions of the deceased, which are set out in their Will, this is commonly known as administrating the estate.


Executor’s Duties

It is important to think carefully about who you wish to appoint as an Executor because there are many duties and responsibilities that an Executor’s role entails, including; corresponding with other parties, keeping records, filling out forms and carrying out the intentions of the deceased, as recorded in the Will.


Legal Duties

In order for an Executor to carry out their duties they will be required to apply for a Grant of Probate, this is a legal document issued by the Probate Court giving the executors authority to deal with the deceased’s assets. If there are any claims against the Estate or other legal issues arise the Executor will be required to deal with these issues.


Appointing an executor

It is important that you appoint an executor who is trustworthy, reliable and capable of carrying out the duties outlined in the Olive Bay Guide Series: A Guide to being an Executor.

You can appoint a single Executor, joint Executors or a group of people to be Executors in your Will. If there are joint or multiple Executors nominated in a Will, they should discuss the practicalities of carrying out their duties and come to an agreement. All the Executors should sign the agreement with a wet signature.

What if my Executor is unable to Act?

In some circumstances, an Executor may not be able to fulfill their role as an Executor under a Will. For example in the following circumstances:-

  • The individual does not wish to undertake the Role of Executor
  • The person named loses capacity due to sickness or age
  • The nominated executor does not outlive the deceased person
Substitute Executors

It is good practice for individuals to name substitute executors in their Will, therefore if an executor is unwilling or unable to carry out their duties the Substitute Executors are able to step in and fulfill the duties of the Executor.

If the executor named cannot or doesn’t wish to act and no substitute executor is named, beneficiaries can apply to administer the estate.