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HMRC internal manual

VAT Registration

The effects of death, insolvency and incapacity on registration: types of personal representative for deceased traders

Personal representatives acting for deceased traders fall into three categories.


An executor is the person nominated by the testator (a deceased person who has made a valid will) in his will to administer his property and carry into effect the provisions of the will. The appointment of the executor, if the person nominated accepts it, dates from the moment of death and all the deceased’s property vests in him from that time. All that a grant of probate does is to confirm him publicly and officially in his appointment.


An administrator is a person appointed after the death by the Court to administer the deceased’s estate. It may be necessary to apply to the Court either because the deceased died intestate (he made no valid will) or because the person or persons appointed as executors declined to accept the responsibilities of the appointment. His appointment is effective back to the date of death. He should not be confused with an administrator who is an insolvency practitioner for a company in administration.

Executors de son tort

Executors de son tort are persons who are neither appointed by the testator nor by the courts to administer the deceased’s estate but who, nevertheless, interfere with the deceased’s property. In this sense, a person who carries on the business activities of the deceased would be an executor de son tort and thus be included within the description of a personal representative.