My friend has died and Im executor. Do I have to do it?

In short! No. But be careful, standing down must be done correctly or you will be required to act as executor. If you are the named executor in the Will, you will need to complete a ‘Deed of Renunciation’ to officially decline the job.

However, first consider the difficulties that could occur if you stand down. Someone else will have to come forward to make sure that the wishes of the deceased as set out in their ‘Last Will and Testament’ are followed. Or, if there is no one else, then it would be viewed as though they had died without a will ? or intestate.

If the estate of the deceased is small and there is no need to go to Probate, then the work that is required could be quite straight forward. Usually, estates below £5000 would not require Probate.

So, before you complete a ‘Deed of Renunciation’, just make sure that acting as executor is something that you definitely do not or cannot do.

If your decision is to step down however, do not in any way have dealings with the estate. Once you have become involved (its legally called ‘intermeddling’), it can be decided by the Probate Registry that you have begun to act. They could thereafter insist that you continue.

Certainly, once Probate has been granted and you are named as the executor, then you have made a commitment to see the job through.

Once completed, a ‘Deed of Renunciation’ means that you cannot decide what happens to the decease’s property, and you cannot appoint another executor. Once signed, it is very difficult to withdraw. You cannot simply change your mind.

However, a signed and duly witnessed ‘Deed of Renunciation’ means you are no longer the executor of the Will and have no responsibility to do anything.

Some Legal Expressions Defined:

Estate = anything owned by the deceased. Things includes property, savings and investments, cash, possessions (large and small), day-to-day items.

Executor = the person (or persons) who carry out the directions left in the decease’s Will.

Probate = is the legal right to deal with a deceased person’s estate. It’s needs to be granted by the Probate Registry. The form is online. It is legally know as a ‘Grant of Representation’.

Probate Registry = the legal body (or court) that oversees those dealing with the Will of a deceased person.

Deed of Renunciation = also called a ‘Notice of Renunciation’; this is the official document that will remove a person from being executor of a Will. There are forms online or you can ask a solicitor to draw one up for you.

A Will = full title is a ‘Last Will and Testament’. It is the officially signed, legal document that lists what a person wants to happen to them and their property after their death.

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