Renouncing as an executor of a Will


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If you’re appointed as an executor under the terms of someone’s Will but you are unable or unwilling to act, you can renounce, provided you follow the correct procedure.

There are a number of reasons why someone might wish to decline becoming an executor, despite having been named as one in a Will. They may not have the time to deal with the administration of the estate, which could be lengthy and time-consuming. They may feel that the role is more than they can cope with, for example if they feel that it will be complicated or they have limited capacity. Or they may simply not want to take on the responsibility, which can be quite onerous, as the executor has to collect in and value all of the assets in the estate, account for all debts and liabilities, draw up accounts and distribute the net estate to the named beneficiaries.

How to renounce the role of executor

It is important that the decision to renounce is taken as soon as possible, and certainly before any action is taken on behalf of the estate.

It is essential that no acts of administration are carried out by someone wishing to renounce their executorship. This includes even minor tasks such as advising a bank of the death or taking receipt of any money owed to the estate. This is classed as intermeddling in the estate, and means that it will then be very difficult to renounce or appoint someone to act on your behalf.

The named executor can sign a deed of renunciation, which can be drawn up by a probate practitioner, and which then needs to be lodged with the Probate Registry; or assuming any other appointed executors also agree, the named executor can appoint someone to act on behalf of all executors under a Power of Attorney for the executor role which allows the appointee(s) to deal with the estate on their behalf as an Administrator.

Who can act as executor if someone renounces

The Will may have appointed two executors, in which case the remaining executor can continue to act providing that the Will allows for them to act individually.

If no other executors were appointed and the executor doesn’t want to appoint anyone else under a Power of Attorney then an application can be made to the court to appoint an administrator.

Avoiding the renunciation problem

It is possible to appoint a professional executor in a Will, such as a Cornerstone Wills. In that case, they will be experienced in the complexities of administering an estate and are unlikely to renounce.

They will be able to deal with the winding-up of the estate, including assessing any tax liabilities, and will prepare estate accounts once the matter is nearing completion.

This can often help families avoid difficult situations where people may feel they are being left out of the process or not being kept informed of progress.

After a death, emotions can run high and there is sometimes a risk of disputes arising. By appointing a professional executor to deal with the estate, people can be reassured that matters are being dealt with properly and in accordance with the Will and the rule of law.

To speak to one of our expert Wills and probate solicitors, ring us on 01276 415835/6/7.