Personal representatives—liability

The following Wills & Probate practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Personal representatives—liability
  • Liability for own acts
  • Contracts
  • Torts
  • Beneficiaries
  • Third parties
  • Co-personal representatives
  • The duty of care
  • Liability for deceased’s obligations
  • Personal relationship
  • More...

Personal representatives—liability

Liability for own acts

Personal representatives (PRs) may find themselves liable for their acts or omissions in respect of their dealings with:

  1. third parties

  2. beneficiaries of the deceased’s Will or on an intestacy

  3. their co-executors

In the course of administration a PR is personally liable for:

  1. performing their obligations under any contracts they enter into and in entering into a contract they are not permitted to limit their liability to the estate assets in their hands

  2. any torts they commit

  3. any loss to the estate resulting from their breach of duty (a devastavit)

In the main the liabilities of an executor and administrator are subject to the same rules.


As PRs are liable for the contracts they enter into and cannot limit their liability to assets in their hands they will be chargeable personally and can be sued in a personal capacity. This will be an action de bonis propriis (‘of his own goods’).


As with the position on contracts PRs are personally liable for any torts committed by them. However, where that tort has been committed in the reasonable management of the estate by either them or any agents instructed by them, they are entitled to an indemnity from the estate assets.

A tort may be described as a civil right of action which is available for the recovery of unliquidated damages by persons who have sustained injury

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