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Wills and trusts

How do I renounce an executorship of a will?

What if you find out that someone has named you as an executor and you don’t want to do it? You’re not obliged to, here's what you need to do to give it up.

23 July 2015

When someone writes a will they have to state who will oversee the distribution of assets and look after their final wishes. These people are known as executors of the will.

But what if you find out that someone has named you as an executor and you don’t want to do it? Well you’re not obliged to, but there are some things you have to do to give it up completely.

You can only renounce probate if you haven’t done anything with the deceased’s estate already. If you have started on the process of administering the estate you can’t then give up the role of executor.

What documents do I need to give up executorship?

You can give up your right to act on behalf of the deceased by signing a form of “renunciation” straightaway. This allows you to relinquish your title to the Grant of Probate and the responsibilities it holds.

To renounce executorship you will need to have a “deed of renunciation” drafted by a wills and probate lawyer. This document must be signed and lodged with the Probate Registry. Once it has been lodged, it's final, and can only be retracted if you have permission from a District Judge or Registrar.

What happens to the probate process after I’ve renounced the position?

If other people have been named as executors, they can apply for probate, provided that the will doesn’t expressly require a certain number of executors.

If you are the only executor appointed in the will and no one else has been mentioned, then an application must be made to the court to appoint an administrator.

What happens if there isn’t a will?

If the deceased didn’t write a will, when they die they're declared as “intestate” and an administrator is appointed to administer their estate. The rules of intestacy will determine who will act on the deceased’s behalf.

If there's just one person entitled, for example a spouse or surviving only child, they may renounce their role as administrator and the right to act falls to the next in line.

When there's more than one person entitled, e.g. three children, then they don’t need to renounce their role. The child who wishes to act simply goes ahead and the others don't need to formally state that they're not involved.

The first thing you should do if you want to renounce your rights as executor is contact a specialist lawyer. The team of wills and probate lawyers at Slater and Gordon are available to help with any issues you may have. Call us on freephone 0330 107 5087 or contact us online and we'll call you.

All the above information was correct at the time of publication.

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