Spot the Difference!

The titles ‘executor’ and ‘attorney’ are often used interchangeably but, although their roles are similar, they have very different responsibilities.

An attorney is a person who has been appointed under a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to make decisions about another’s financial affairs or their health and welfare whilst they are alive. They usually act when the person who granted the LPA (the donor) lacks the capacity to make decisions for themselves. An attorney has a duty to act in the best interest of the donor.

A LPA comes to an end when the donor dies and does not give the attorney the power to deal with the estate of the donor after their death.

An Executor is a person who has been appointed under a Will to deal with the administration of the estate of the person who has made the Will (the testator) after they have passed away. They have no powers to make any decisions in respect of the estate while the testator is alive and are not entitled to read the Will while the testator is alive without their permission.

Once the testator has died the Executor has a duty to correctly administer the estate by safeguarding and collecting in the assets, paying the estate’s liabilities and distributing the estate in accordance with the Will.

If you have been appointed as an executor or attorney and are not sure of your role and responsibilities it is important that you obtain legal advice as there are strict penalties for failing to act correctly in either role.

About the Author


Claire Thompson is a full member of The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).

Claire specialises in all aspects of private client law including Wills, Powers of Attorney, Court of Protection matters, Estate Planning and Estate Administration.

Claire can be contacted on 01548 854927 or