It is commonly known that the role of Executor carries with it a lot of responsibility.  The Executor of a Will is responsible for ensuring that the deceased’s Estate is administered in accordance with its terms and in accordance with the law.  What is less widely known is that the role of Executor can involve an element of personal liability when administering the Estate.  The same applies to the people, called Administrators, that take on the responsibility of dealing with an intestate Estate (where there is no Will).  The general term for Executors and Administrators is “Personal Representatives”.  Just a few of the matters that can give rise to personal liability for Personal Representatives are discussed below.




To begin with, interpreting the terms of the Will or the rules of intestacy can be difficult.  A Personal Representative could be held personally liable for any losses incurred by the Estate’s beneficiaries if a mistake is made.




The Personal Representative is responsible for discharging the Estate’s income tax, inheritance tax and capital gains tax liabilities.  Care should be taken to ensure that such liabilities are settled in full so as to avoid being made personally liable for those tax liabilities after the Estate is distributed.




Proper investigation is needed to ensure that all of the deceased’s liabilities are known and settled prior to distribution.  A Personal Representative can be held personally responsible for payment of the debts once the Estate has been distributed to the beneficiaries.


Claims against the Estate


Certain categories of individuals can make a claim against an Estate for up to six months after a Grant of Representation has been issued.  A Personal Representative must satisfy himself/herself that there will be no such claims before distributing the Estate and must exercise caution if distributing an Estate early.  The Personal Representative could be held financially responsible to meet any successful claims if proper precautions are not taken.


Bankrupt Beneficiaries


When distributing an Estate, a Personal Representative must take care not to distribute monies or assets to a beneficiary who is bankrupt.  The trustee in bankruptcy can pursue the Personal Representative if monies cannot then be recovered from the beneficiary to discharge his or her debts.


How Can Fisher Jones Greenwood help?


There are specific steps that can be taken by a Personal Representative to protect himself/ herself from the types of personal liability referred to above.  The team at Fisher Jones Greenwood can assist you in the administration of the Estate and can make sure that those steps are taken.  We will provide advice and guidance throughout so as to ensure that the role of Personal Representative is properly fulfilled and the Estate administered correctly.


If you require legal advice in any of these areas we would be happy to help. To contact us call 01206 835261 or email [email protected]