Guidance for Executors - New

Administering a Will can be complex, especially if you are new to the process. Our Legacy Team have the experience and expertise to help you if required.

If you have any questions at any point during the process, get in touch with the Legacy Team on 0300 123 1862 (Monday - Friday 8am-6pm) or email

1. Get a copy of the Will and check it is valid

Most people keep a copy of their Will at home or with their solicitors, so look there first. It’s important to check the Will you have is the most recent version. A solicitor will be able to tell you if the Will is valid.

2. Collect details of the deceased’s assets and any debts

As executor, you need to gather the details of the deceased’s estate, including accurate valuations of all assets and any outstanding debts. This is sometimes referred to as a schedule of assets and liabilities. You will need this information when applying for the Grant of Probate (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or Confirmation (Scotland).

3. Apply for a Grant of Probate

Getting a Grant of Probate (called Confirmation if the deceased lived in Scotland) allows you to legally deal with the deceased’s estate.  In most cases you’ll need to do this before you can access their bank account, mortgage and any investments.

To get a Grant of Probate you need to:

  1. Complete a probate application form - this will be different depending on whether the deceased lived in England, Wales or N.I. or in Scotland.
  2. Complete the appropriate Inheritance Tax form - there are even forms for you if you think inheritance tax won’t be applicable.
  3. Send your application to your local Probate Registry - check what you should include with your application on
  4. Swear an oath - before a solicitor or at the local probate office. Your local probate office will help you arrange this appointment.

Once you have completed all these steps you should hear from the Probate Service within 10-12 working days.

4. Pay inheritance tax (if applicable)

Inheritance tax is payable on all estates worth over a certain amount, so it’s important to check whether the deceased’s estate qualifies.

All estates have to submit the appropriate inheritance tax form – even if there’s nothing to pay. As we are a charity, most gifts left to us are exempt from inheritance tax, but this is not always the case.

If more than 10% of the value of the estate has been left to charity, inheritance tax may be payable at a reduced rate. If this is the case, submit form IHT430 with your other inheritance tax paperwork when applying for the Grant of Probate.

For further details of inheritance tax exemptions and conditions, check’s inheritance tax guidance.

5. Settle outstanding debts and distribute the estate in line with the Will

You’re now ready to distribute the estate to the right people. After any debts, like mortgages or loans, have been paid off, you can distribute the gifts left in the Will to the beneficiaries.

5a. How do I know if the gift in the Will is for Cancer Research UK?

Our charity has been around for many years, but we’ve not always been known as Cancer Research UK.

As long as the Will includes one of the following names or registered charity numbers then it is very likely the legacy gift has been left to us.

Charity Name

Registered Charity Number (current and previous)

Cancer Research UK 1089464, SC041666, 1103, 247
Imperial Cancer Research Fund 209631
The Cancer Research Campaign


British Empire Cancer Campaign for Research 225838
British Empire Cancer Campaign 225838
The North of England Cancer Research Campaign 1036335
War on Cancer (Whyte Watson Turner Cancer Research Trust and Bradford's War on Cancer) 511226 (linked to 1089464)


We have been located at the following addresses. If the Will mentions one of these, it is likely that the gift is meant for Cancer Research UK:

  • 2 Redman Place, Stratford, London, E20 1JQ
  • Angel Building, 407 St John Street, London EC1V 4AD
  • 61 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3PX
  • 11 Grosvenor Crescent, London, SW1X 7EE
  • 10 Cambridge Terrace, Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4JL
  • 2 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AR
  • 44 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3PX
  • PO Box 123, London, WC2A 3PX
  • Dufferin Avenue, Bangor, Co. Down, Northern Ireland BT20 3AL
  • Princes Exchange, 1 Earl Grey Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH3 9EE

The Cancer Research Campaign and Imperial Cancer Research Fund merged in 2002 to become Cancer Research UK. Gifts left to either of these charities are now managed by Cancer Research UK.

Gifts to ‘cancer research’

Sometimes gifts are left to “cancer research” rather than specifically Cancer Research UK. If this is the case, check the Will for any of the charity numbers or addresses listed above as this could be a sign the gift is for us.

5b. Paying a set sum of money to Cancer Research UK

If a set sum of money has been left to Cancer Research UK the process for transferring these funds is as follows:

  1. Get in touch with the Legacy Team and write a brief letter with your details, those of the deceased, and a description of the gift (ideally a copy of the part of the Will with the gift to Cancer Research UK).
  2. Pay a gift in using the following bank details:

NatWest Bank

CRUK Legacies

Account Number: 22994289

Sort Code: 56 00 13

Alternatively, you can pay by cheque. But please make it payable to the charity named in the Will (i.e. Cancer Research UK or one of our previous names like Cancer Research Campaign).

5c. Gifts that leave a percentage of an estate to Cancer Research UK

If a percentage or the remainder of the estate has been left to Cancer Research UK then the steps for processing this gift can be more complex. But don’t worry – we’re here to help.

As soon as you are able please help us by sending:

  1. A copy of the Will
  2. A schedule of assets and liabilities (or the estate Inventory and form C1 if the deceased lived in Scotland)

Once we know what is involved in the estate we’ll be able to provide you with additional information to help you oversee the administration process.

5d. Gifts dependent on other events

If Cancer Research UK is left a gift which is subject to someone else having an interest first, i.e. a right to live at a property for life (usually called a life interest) we will need to see:

  1. A copy of the Will
  2. A schedule of assets and liabilities (or the estate Inventory and form C1 if the deceased lived in Scotland)

From time to time, we will need to make sure that our information is up-to-date. Please contact us as early as possible so we can agree contact on an ongoing basis.

As with other types of gifts, once the estate is settled we will require a copy of the Estate Account.

Where the Trust Asset is property, please let us know the insurance and maintenance details of the property each year.

Where the assets are stocks and shares please send us a portfolio valuation each year.

5e. Other types of gift

Sometimes people leave us gifts where the value is not set. We’re used to getting all sorts of things – over the years we’ve received everything from houses to vases to rivers.

To make sure that the person’s wishes are honoured as closely as possible we like to make sure we are involved in the sale or use of these types of gift – so please contact us as soon as you can.

5f. Property or land

If the gift includes property or land, please help us make the most of the person’s legacy by sending two or more valuations before it is sold. You can get these from an independent estate agent or surveyor.

In some situations we will need a professional surveyors’ report under charity law (England and Wales only) which is a more detailed valuation of the property.

If the property or land is in Scotland, please help us by showing us the Home Report and a marketing appraisal.

As a charity we do not pay capital gains tax, which may arise if the property has increased in value since the person died. If steps are taken we can avoid any tax liability and really make the most of the gifts left to us.

5g. Investments and shares

We can often obtain preferential rates – both for the charity and for co-beneficiaries – in the sale of stocks and shares, so please contact us before selling any shares.

6. Finalising the estate

At the end of the administration process we will need a copy of the Estate Accounts. These are the final accounts of all the transactions that have taken place over the course of the administration process.

We ask for this because as a charity we are very tightly regulated and need this document to ensure that every legacy gift we receive has been calculated correctly.

We are also able to claim back any income tax paid during the administration process with respect to gifts left to us. This allows us to really make the most of legacies left to us. To help us do this please make sure you provide us with a completed R185 (Estate Income) form.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an executor of a will do? 

An executor is someone who is named in the will as responsible for dealing with the estate. An executor may have to apply for a special legal authority before they can deal with the estate. This is called probate. An administrator has to apply for letters of administration before they can deal with an estate.

What to do as executor of a Will? 

The main duties of an executor can include the following:

  1. Paying any bills owed by the estate.
  2. Working out whether any Inheritance Tax is due, and paying it.
  3. Applying for Probate.
  4. Paying any other taxes.
  5. Valuing and distributing the estate according to the will.
  6. Making any court appearances required.

Can an executor benefit in a will? 

Can an executor be a beneficiary in a will? Yes, it's perfectly legal to make the executor of your will a beneficiary as well. It's actually pretty common. After all, the friend or family member you trust the most is usually also someone you'd want to leave a gift to.

Jargon buster

When it comes to Will writing, you might come across some terms that you haven’t heard before. Here are the explanations for some of the most common terms used in Will writing.

Beneficiary: A person, or an organisation, to whom you leave something in your Will.

Bequest: A term for a gift that you leave to a person or organisation in your will. There are several different types of bequest, but the main ones are:

  • Residuary bequest: A gift made of what is left of your estate after all other gifts have been handed out and debts paid off. To do this you may leave either the total of the residue or a percentage.
  • Pecuniary bequest: A gift made of a fixed sum of money. Unfortunately, the effect of inflation means that the value of a pecuniary gift will decrease over time.
  • Specific bequest: A particular named item left as a gift in your Will. For example, a piece of jewellery, furniture or a painting.

Codicil: A codicil is a document used to change a Will that has already been made. You can find more information about codicils in how to leave a gift to charity in your Will.

Estate: Your estate is the total sum of your personal possessions, property and money minus any liabilities.

Executor(s): The person or people that you appoint to ensure your final wishes are carried out. These can be professionals, friends, family members or institutions such as banks and some charities.

Guardian: Someone who is responsible for children until they become 18.

Inheritance Tax: This tax is paid on the portion of your estate that is above the nil-rate threshold.

Intestate: The word used to describe someone who has died without a Will.

Legacy: Another word for a gift or bequest left in your Will.

Probate: When somebody dies leaving a Will, their executors will usually need to apply for a grant of probate. Once this is obtained, the executors can deal with the wishes expressed in the Will and distribute the gifts that have been left.

Residue: This is what is left of your estate after any outstanding debts, taxes, pecuniary and specific bequests have been distributed to beneficiaries.

Testator: The name given to a person who has made a Will.

Trustee(s): One or more people who manage a trust.