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Patrick Brennan | 9th October 2023

Resigning as Executor: What you need to know and how to do It correctly.


Patrick Brennan | 9th October 2023

Resigning as Executor: What you need to know and how to do It correctly.

Being appointed as an executor in someone’s Will can be an honor, but it is also a significant responsibility.

The role of an Executor and resigning from the position

In this blog, we will discuss why an executor may wish to resign, how to resign, and alternatives to resigning. We will also provide guidance on communicating your decision and seeking legal advice.

What is an executor?

An executor is an individual or entity appointed by a person in their Will to administer their estate as set out in the terms of the Will. They are responsible for the administration of the estate, including collecting in and distributing assets, paying taxes, and settling debts. The role can be straightforward, but is often more complex than is perhaps anticipated at the outset, particularly if trusts are involved.

Why would an executor wish not to act?

An executor will usually have been asked by the deceased if they are willing to act, although there is no requirement that they be consulted before they are appointed. Even if consent was sought and given, it is often the case that circumstances change, whether that be in relation to the executor’s personal circumstances, or their relationship with the deceased. It could also be the case that the wider family dynamics mean that the executor does not wish to act, or might feel it would be inappropriate for them to do so. Any or all of the above may explain why an executor may feel that they must resign their appointment.

How to resign

If, having considered your options, you decide that you do not wish to act as an executor, you may resign your appointment. This is known formally as “renouncing”. A deed of renunciation must be signed, and once it is, your appointment will be terminated and you will not be able or be required to act as an executor of the estate. The remaining executors, if any, will still be able to act.

However, you may not renounce your appointment if you have started to hold yourself out as an executor to third parties. This is known as “intermeddling”. Whether an executor has intermeddled is not always obvious but taking steps such as writing to banks or building societies, collecting any debts due to the estate, or disposing of personal items belonging to the deceased are all likely to be examples of intermeddling.

A person who has intermeddled may only be removed with the consent of the court.

Are there any alternatives to resigning?

If the executor wishes to act but is finding the administration too much to handle, they may consider appointing professional advisors to assist them, to help ensure that the estate is administered correctly.

If an executor has intermeddled, or is happy to remain appointed but to allow the other executors named in the Will to take the lead, they may have what is known as “power reserved”. This means that the executor does not take an active role in the administration of the estate and does not apply for the Grant of Probate. They will not be able to be involved in the administration, but they will still have the ability to act as an executor in the future, if they are required, for example if the other executor(s) are unable to complete the administration of the estate.

In rare cases, an application may be made to the Court, either by the executor themselves or by other parties involved in the administration (such as the beneficiaries of the Will) for an executor to be removed from the role.

How do I communicate my wish to not act?

If you are considering resigning as an executor, it is essential to let the beneficiaries, other executors, and legal professionals who may be involved know as soon as possible. You should also seek advice from an experienced solicitor to fully understand the legal ramifications of your decision.

Next step

Being an executor can be time consuming and emotionally draining, especially when it includes the administration of a loved one’s estate. If you find that you do not feel able to act, it is critical to seek legal advice to avoid any unwanted legal consequences. Executors play a vital role in the administration of estates and it is essential that all parties involved are aware of your decision and the necessary steps moving forward. At Paris Smith, we offer a wide range of services for executors and our experts can provide you with the necessary guidance, support, and advice to help you make informed decisions regarding your role. Please contact a member of the Wills, Trusts & Estates team if you would like to discuss how we can help you.

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