The role of a Personal Representative

If you are the Personal Representative (legally referred to as an Executor or Administrator), then you are personally liable to ensure that the estate is distributed in accordance with the terms of the Deceased’s Will, or the rules of intestacy if there was no Will. The role of a Personal Representative should certainly not be taken lightly as it comes with many responsibilities.

The responsibilities of a Personal Representative

  • Personal Representatives (Executors or Administrators) are legally and financially responsible for the correct distribution of the estate

  • An Executor or Administrator is also personally liable for the incorrect distribution of an estate

  • They are responsible for maximising the estate for those who are inheriting (known as beneficiaries)

Challenges you may face

As a Personal Representative, you and/or your solicitor may come across challenges whilst administering the estate. These could include:

  • Trying to locate missing beneficiaries

  • Working out who should inherit under the rules of intestacy if no Will was left

  • Bringing foreign shares or funds back to the UK

  • Locating missing documents such as the Will

These challenges increase the risk of errors and chance of you facing personal liability if mistakes are made. If you incorrectly distribute the estate, you may be held liable. That’s why we’d always advise seeking specialist help if you face any of these challenges. 

For example, if missing or currently unknown beneficiaries come forward in the future, then they would have the right to pursue you for the share of the estate that they did not receive. By ensuring that a thorough investigation is carried out and backed up with a missing beneficiary indemnity insurance policy, you can protect yourself from any potential future liability.

Why should I outsource this work to a specialist?

Outsourcing the specialist aspects of estate administration can speed up the process, resulting in a quicker distribution for beneficiaries. At Title Research, we have the knowledge and experience to make the task or project progress more smoothly and quickly than if you or your solicitor were to carry out the work yourself.

Quick response time

Quick and efficient
Our dedicated team of experts makes sure that a resolution is achieved smoothly and efficiently allowing you to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries as quickly as possible.

Over 50 years experience

Experienced approach
We’re proud to have been successfully solving complex estate administration cases for over 50 years. There’s no doubt that you’ll benefit from that experience and expertise.

International reach

International reach
With trusted contacts and specialist partners around the world, we know just where to look to find the information and people you need.

Overcome complexities

Overcome complexities
We are familiar with navigating the ever-increasing complexities in family structures needed to determine who is set to inherit when there’s no Will.

Transparent pricing

Transparent pricing
We are open and honest in regards to our fees. Our price is no way dependent on the value of the estate and is calculated based on the work involved.

Piece of mind

Peace of mind
We conduct our research with insurance in mind so we can put the appropriate insurance in place to ensure you are always protected.

Understanding charging methods­

Personal Representatives should approach costs with caution as it is always worth considering the transparency of the price you are being quoted. Pricing transparency within the legal sector has been a popular topic of conversation for some time due to unethical and unclear charging methods.

There are three main charging methods:

Fixed price
It’s important to find out what is and what is not included within the fixed price. One important question to ask is whether the use of databases is included or will it be charged as an additional disbursement?

Time and expense

Ask what hourly rate will be used as this can make it easier to compare quotes. You should also ensure you get an estimate of how many hours of work they predict the work to take.

Contingency or commission fees

This charging method is often used by heir hunters and it can seem attractive to Personal Representatives as it is regularly presented in a way that suggests that it doesn’t cost the estate anything. However, you should be cautious when it comes to fees of this type as they are based on a percentage of the value of the estate. They can be unfair in relation to the work involved.

We’d advise you to calculate the approximate fee that would be paid using a percentage fee and compare that to time and expense or fixed price quotations. For example, if the estate is worth £200,000 and the heir hunter charges 20% of the estate, the fee would be £40,000.

How we charge

The cost of providing our support services is in no way dependent or reliant on the value of an estate. The cost involved in carrying out the work always remains the same, regardless of the sums at stake.


Want to find out more about heir hunters?

These resources share everything you need to know about heir hunters and look at their sometimes unethical charging methods.

Heir hunters

Mrs M’s experience with heir hunters

This interesting case study video highlights how an heir hunter pursued percentage fees from the beneficiaries.

Watch now

A quick guide to heir hunters

A guide to heir hunters and how to get a fair deal

This guide aims to answer your questions and ensure that you get a fair deal if you are ever approached by heir hunters.

Learn More