Executor renunciation - Natalie Power - Turnbull Hill Lawyers - Wills and Estates

An executor is a person appointed under the terms of a will, to carry out the administration of an estate when someone passes away. If you have been named as an executor, you may not wish to accept the appointment and may want to renounce probate. This article discusses this process including what it means, when you should renounce and how you go about it.

Can you refuse to be an executor?

You do not have to accept your appointment as an executor of an estate and can renounce probate, which means you resign as executor. If you wish to renounce probate, you should do so as soon as possible after the will maker’s death and before you have intermeddled in the estate i.e., before you sell, transfer or in some way deal with the deceased’s assets prior to probate being granted by the court.

Renunciation of probate

To get the process started you need to sign a renunciation of probate form, which is a court approved form. This would usually be prepared by the solicitor assisting the executors in the administration of the estate. This form would then be filed in the court with the application for probate or letters of administration with will. The renunciation of probate can also be filed in the court by the person renouncing before the application for probate or letters of administration with will annexed are filed.

By signing the renunciation of probate form, you are declaring you were appointed as executor of the deceased’s will, you have not intermeddled in the deceased’s estate, and you renounce all right to probate of the will, and to all trusts, powers and authorities expressed by the will, to be made or given to you.

It is important to note, if you have intermeddled in an estate then you cannot renounce probate. Arranging the deceased’s funeral is not seen as intermeddling.

Also, by signing the renunciation of probate form, if you are also a beneficiary of the estate, it does not affect your entitlement to the estate.

Who administers the estate if you renounce probate?

If the deceased appointed two executors in their will and one executor renounces probate, the other executor could act alone. Alternatively, there may be a substitute executor appointed in the will and that person may be able to act, depending upon the wording of the will, if the instituted executor renounces probate.

If there is no other executor appointed in the will, then the major beneficiary of the estate could apply to the court for a grant of letters of administration with will annexed. The major beneficiary would make this application to become the administrator of the estate and, upon letters of administration with will annexed being granted to them by the Court, would be able to carry out the administration of the estate and to distribute the estate in accordance with the deceased’s will.

Can an executor renounce after grant of probate?

Once probate has been granted by the Court, the executor can only then be removed by an order of the Court revoking the grant of probate. Therefore, it is important to consider whether you wish to take on the role as the executor, before intermeddling in the estate and an application for probate has been made.

In conclusion, if you are appointed as an executor and do not wish to take on that role, you can renounce probate and you should do so at the earliest possible opportunity after the will maker has passed away.

For further information contact our Wills and Estates team.

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