How to renounce your role as executor

If you have been appointed as an executor of a will you may have mixed emotions about the decision. Often the feeling of responsibility of being chosen as an executor can be overwhelming, particularly if you are still dealing with the trauma of losing a friend or loved one. If you decide that you do not want to take on the role, then you do not have to do it.

It is a simple process to give up your right to act as an executor and it should be carried out as soon as possible. All you need to do is sign a deed of renunciation. You must sign this document before you take any action. If you act as executor in any way this is classed as intermeddling, which means that you will automatically accept liability for any errors that you make in dealing with the person’s affairs and the role of executor will remain with you.

The deed of renunciation can be drafted by a solicitor or probate professional. Once the document has been signed it takes immediate effect but you can decide to withdraw it before it has been lodged with the Probate Registry. If the next of kin has decided to step in and apply for grant of probate, they can present the renunciation document at the same time. However, giving up your role as executor does not allow you to appoint anyone else in your place.

It is important to keep in mind when relinquishing your executor title is that if the will included other executors then they can generally apply for probate. If there are no others or they have renounced too, then someone must apply to court to be appointed as an administrator. This person will be chosen in the same way as the rules of intestacy dictate, starting with the surviving spouse unless another renunciation deed is drawn up, in which case it will fall to the next in line after that.

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