Stepping Down as an Executor
Stepping Down as an Executor
Often an Executor of a Will may have no idea that the Deceased has named them in this capacity, or may not fully understand the duties which are placed upon them within this role. Alternatively, their circumstances may have changed since the Will was drafted and they are no longer willing or able to continue in that capacity.
This blog will seek to consider how an unwilling Executor can seek to extract themselves from the position, depending on their situation.
Stepping Down Immediately
Stepping down (Renouncing by way of a Deed) as an Executor is absolutely possible and they are not under an obligation, simply by virtue of the Will, to fulfil the appointment. However, and this is something which it is very easy to fall foul of, in order to Renounce, it is essential that the named Executor has not taken any active steps in relation to the administration of the Estate.
Any active steps relating to dealing with the Deceased’s estate or assets, or holding themselves out as an Executor will class as ‘intermeddling’ and may remove the opportunity to Renounce.
Intermeddling is complex and will usually be considered on a case by case basis.
In short, if you become aware that you have been appointed as an Executor and you do not want to carry out this role, it is safest to take no steps whatsoever and seek immediate legal advice on your intention to Renounce.
Stepping Down after Partial Conduct
If it is too late to Renounce, and an Executor has started their role in some way and then decided that this is not something they can continue, the options available are far from simple and are not guaranteed.
Where an Executor has intermeddled in the Estate, they may be subject to a Citation by the Beneficiaries, forcing them to take the Grant of Probate. It would be very tricky for a simply unwilling Executor to effectively avoid acting in these circumstances.
If the unwilling Executor is one of a number of named Executors, then they may be able to ask the other Executors to serve a Notice of Power Reserved, effectively confirming that the remaining Executors will be acting without involving them, unless they object. As they are unwilling to act, they would be able to stay silent and allow the other Executors to obtain a Grant and administer the Estate without reference to them. They are not giving up their rights to take the Grant in the future, but have simply, as the name states, reserved those rights for the time being.
If the Grant of Probate has been obtained by the unwilling Executor, then a consideration of their position and reasons for wanting removal would ideally need to take place with a legal professional and be specific to those circumstances.
If you are concerned about your appointment as an Executor and want advice on removing yourself from this role, please speak to our specialist Dispute Resolution Team today.
Chartered Legal Executive