The death of a family member or friend is never easy, but when you are also responsible for dealing with their estate and tying up the loose ends, it can add another layer of stress to an already difficult situation.
When someone asks you to be an executor of their estate, you might feel flattered and keen, but its not something you should take on lightly. The role of executor is a big responsibility, and depending on the circumstances, it may require a lot of your time and energy. Even after youve taken care of the initial duties, you will also be responsible for any future claims made against the estate, and so you should consider the role a life-long commitment.
If you doubt your ability to fulfil your duty as executor, you should renounce the role as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the more difficult the process becomes, and once you have commenced activity as executor, you will be obligated to maintain the role unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Its easiest to renounce the role of executor when the person is still alive. You should voice your concerns and inform them that you have changed your mind and can no longer accept the role. They must then change their will so you are no longer listed as executor, and they may also have to choose and nominate your replacement(s).
If the person has died and you wish to renounce your role as executor, you should act as swiftly as possible. Your first step should be to seek the advice of a legal professional, as they will be able to inform you of your options and the correct process.
You should also contact the Probate Registry:
0845 302 0900 (Probate and Inheritance helpline)
028 9072 4678 (Northern Ireland helpline)
If the person has died, but you have not yet undertaken any duties as executor, you may need to complete a form which declares your renunciation of the role.
If you have already commenced your duties and wish to relinquish the role of executor, you will only be able to do so if you can demonstrate exceptional circumstances, such as poor health or a family crisis. It is imperative that you seek the advice of a legal professional at this juncture.
In Scotland, you may renounce the role if you are not the sole executor listed in the persons will. If you are the only executor, you will have to find a replacement before you can step down.
In Northern Ireland, you can only appoint someone else if you demonstrate an inability to manage your own affairs competently.
Renouncing your position as executor of someones estate can prove challenging, so it is best to decline the role if you have any doubts about your ability to fulfil your duties.