Can I Resign As Executor Of A Will?
Posted on 22nd May 2020
Just because you’ve been appointed as Executor, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to act. You may not be well, you may live too far away, or you may, simply, not want to get involved with the responsibility of administering your loved one’s Estate. Whatever your reasons for wanting to ‘resign’, there are options available to you. Our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors discuss what these are, and how we can help.
What is an Executor and what do they do?
An Executor is responsible for dealing with a deceased person’s property, money, personal possessions, and debts (and, quite often, dealing with their funeral). These assets and liabilities are collectively known as a person’s Estate. The Executor’s responsibilities also include distributing any assets to the beneficiaries and ensuring that the deceased’s affairs are completely finalised.
During the administration of the deceased’s Estate, the Executor will need to deal with a lot of paperwork, including an application for Probate (you can read about the process of applying for Probate in our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors in Lancaster’s blog, here) and Inheritance Tax forms (even if there isn’t going to be any inheritance tax payable).
Who can be appointed as an Executor of my Will?
A Testator (the person making the Will) can appoint anyone of their choosing, providing that they are over the age of 18 and have mental capacity themselves. If, after you’ve died, one of your Executors has lost capacity, or they are still underage, they would be unable to act. Instead, if you’ve appointed more than one Executor, the other(s) would be able to act.
Usually, the Testator will choose to appoint a person, or people, that they trust, such as relatives or friends.
However, another option, which our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors in Lancaster have found to be more frequently chosen in recent months, would be to appoint a professional, such as our expert Wills Trusts and Probate team. In some instances, this is because the Testator doesn’t have a large circle of family or friends and therefore prefers to appoint ourselves. In other cases, the Testator may choose to appoint our expert team as they feel that an experienced professional may be better placed to deal with the administration of their Estate. Sadly, another common reason for the Testator to appoint ourselves as professional Executors would be that there has been a family feud, and they believe that there’s likely to be arguments over their Will.
If I’ve been appointed as an Executor is someone’s Will, do I have to act?
No. If an Executor does not want to be involved in dealing with a person’s Estate, for example, if they have a lot going on in their own life, or if they don’t live locally and cannot act, they don’t have to.
An Executor can permanently remove themselves as Executor, which would absolve them from any responsibility for dealing with the Estate on behalf of the deceased. To do this, they can sign a Deed of Renunciation, effectively resigning them from the role. The Deed should be drafted by a professional Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitor to prevent there from being any issues with this in the future. The original document must be signed by the renouncing Executor in the presence of a witness, who will also need to sign.
If an Executor wants to renounce, they should do so as soon as possible, and not become involved with the administration of the Estate whatsoever. If the Executor has already been involved with the Estate administration, removing themselves can become complicated.
If I renounce as Executor, do I not receive any Inheritance?
If you’re named in the Testator’s Will as an Executor and a Beneficiary, generally renouncing as Executor will not affect your inheritance. However, depending how the Testator’s Will is worded, this may not always be the case. You should seek advice from our team of Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors in Lancaster, Garstang or Longridge, here.
Can professional Executors renounce?
In some cases, such as if the family or beneficiaries of the Will do not want the professional to act, they may request that they renounce as Executor. This could be if the Estate is small and the family can deal with it themselves, or it may be that they wish to use a different professional.
Whatever the reason, the professional Executor can renounce (and generally will), although they cannot be forced by the beneficiaries to for no reason.
If the Testator decides to appoint our team of Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors as their Executor, we would always consider whether renouncing was in the best interests of all the beneficiaries and the family of the deceased. If the matter is complicated, and the family/beneficiaries are feuding, we may discuss it with them and make a decision as to whether to continue acting based on everyone’s opinion.
However, in the majority of cases, professional Executors will renounce to allow the family or friends to deal with matters themselves.
It is worth bearing in mind, however, that the Testator themselves desired that the professional Executor dealt with matters and therefore, quite often, to remove the professional Executor would be to disregard the Testator’s wishes.
Do I need legal help to renounce as Executor?
It’s always recommended as, if the Deed of Renunciation is not correctly drafted, this could make it invalid and could lead to issues for the renouncing Executor and with the Estate in the future.
Our team of Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors are experts in dealing with Estate administration and can draft the Deed of Renunciation and obtain your signature to the same (acting as your witness) on your behalf. You can contact our team to discuss renouncing as an Executor online, here, or at your local office.
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