Executors derive their authority from the Will whereas Administrators derive their authority from the Grant of Letters of Administration. In either scenario, both persons are referred to as the Personal Representatives and have full power to carry out the administration of the estate once the Grant of Representation (either Probate or Letters of Administration) has been made.
The majority of the powers which Executors can rely upon derive from legislation. However, these powers can be altered by a testator in their Will (commonly the scope of the administrative powers will be extended). Of course, if a person dies without having made a Will, then the administrative powers will not have been altered at all and the Administrator will be left with only those powers which derive from the law.
During the administration period, Personal Representatives have, amongst others, the power to delegate, employ agents, sell and manage the deceased person’s assets and power to distribute to the beneficiaries. If these powers are not exercised appropriately then the Personal Representatives will be held accountable and may be personally liable to the beneficiaries for any loss which results.
The role of a Personal Representative is a serious one, and brings with it various obligations and duties, which can be quite onerous and the performance of which can be very involved. Fundamentally, however, the main duties of Personal Representatives are to safeguard the estate and administer it efficiently. In order to do so they must:
Because of the importance of the role and the complexity of the tasks involved, many of our clients choose to appoint a professional Executor to deal with the administration of their estate and often they choose to appoint the partners of the firm, who have a wealth of experience in administering estates. Further to this, the Private Client Team frequently advises ‘lay’ Personal Representatives either on discreet elements of the administration or on a more ongoing basis throughout the whole administration period.
If you would like further information about the powers and duties of Personal Representatives please do not hesitate to contact us.
Ambrose Appelbe is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority with registration number 191153.