An executor is someone named in a will as responsible for sorting out the estate of the person who’s died. The person who died will normally have told you if you’re an executor. You’ll need the original will to apply for probate.
Find the original will The person who died should have told all the executors where to find the original will and any updates, for example:
at their house
with their solicitor
With a will service such as the National Register
Walsh West Wills, Estates and Probate lawyers can help if you cannot understand a will or codicil.
If you cannot find the original will, you’ll need to fill in a lost will form.
If there’s more than one will, only the most recent will is valid. Do not destroy any copies of earlier wills until you’ve received probate.
An executor only receives assets if they’re also named as a beneficiary.
If there’s more than one executor
If more than one person is named as an executor, you must all agree who makes the application for probate. Up to 4 executors can be named on the application.
If only one executor is named on the application they’ll need to prove that they tried to contact all executors named in the will before they applied.
If you’re having problems finding the other executors, you can contact the Probate Call Centre.
If you do not want to or cannot be an executor
The will may name a replacement executor for someone who becomes ‘unwilling or unable’ to deal with the estate.
If no executors are willing or able to apply for probate, fill in a form to give up executor rights and send it to HMCTS Probate.
You do not want to be an executor
You can do one of the following:
completely give up your right to apply for probate (‘renunciation’) - fill in a form to give up executor rights and send it with the probate application form
reserve your right to apply for probate later if another executor cannot deal with the estate (holding ‘power reserved’)
When an executor is unable to apply for probate
A replacement executor should apply for probate if the executor is unable to, for example because:
they do not have ‘mental capacity’ - get a doctor to fill in a mental capacity form and send it with the probate application
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