The Role of an Executor — Part 1

The Role of an Executor — Part 1

1. Introduction

It is quite common for our clients to be asked to act as executors under a Will.  This usually arises due to requests by family members but it can also arise in relation to requests from friends.  It can often be difficult to refuse to take on such a role as the fact that one has been asked to act as executor shows that the person making the Will attributes a degree of trust and confidence to that person.  It is therefore likely that the role of executor will be accepted without fully understanding the nature of this role and the legal obligations the role imposes.

2. The Role of the Executor

The Executor is a person appointed under a Will to administer the estate of that deceased person. There can be one or more executors.  The duty of the Executor is to collect in the assets of the deceased in a timely fashion, extract a Grant of Probate in the estate of the deceased and administer the estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of that Will.  From the date of death of the deceased, the whole estate devolves and passes to the Executor.  Some of the duties of the Executors are as follows:

  • Disposal of the body of the deceased in accordance with the deceased’s wishes
  • Valuation and protection of the assets of the deceased
  • Ascertainment of all liabilities
  • Ascertainment of the identity of beneficiaries
  • Completion of the Inland Revenue Affidavit and extracting the Grant of Probate
  • Paying the expenses and debts of the estate
  • Preparation of administration accounts

The duty of the Executor is for life.  Accordingly, if assets are discovered after the administration is complete, it is the duty of the Executor to dispose of such assets as per the Will.

3. Must I act as Executor?

No.  Even though a person may be named in a Will as an executor they can renounce their right to act as an Executor under the Succession Act, 1965.  It is important to note that should an Executor accept an appointment and extract the Grant of Probate in the estate of a deceased, then such an Executor cannot subsequently seek to reverse his or her decision to act as Executor without the consent of the High Court.

4. Am I entitled to be paid for my time?

No.  The role is gratuitous and an Executor is not entitled to be paid unless the Will specifies otherwise.  One must bear in mind the amount of time the administration can take and therefore Executors will be giving up a lot of their personal time at no remuneration.  Executors are entitled to be paid for out of pocket expenses.

5. Must an executor engage a solicitor to act on his or her behalf?

The answer to this question is no but it is advisable for Executors to engage a solicitor to assist and advise them on the administration process.  There are numerous legal duties and obligations upon an Executor of which an Executor may not be necessarily aware.  Please see Part 2 of this series, which deals in more detail with the legal duties and obligations imposed on executors.

If you have any queries on the contents of this article, please contact Brendan Sharkey at 01 6619 500 or

Brendan Sharkey
Author: Brendan Sharkey