You are not obliged to serve as the executor of someone’s estate. You can renounce this role entirely but if you do not want to completely remove yourself from the equation, you can reserve power as an executor instead. Prestige Tax and Trust Services explains how to reserve power as an executor.
We strongly advise people to draw up wills before passing away. With this legal document, people can determine who will inherit their assets (e.g. money, property, antiques), once they have died. When drawing up a will, people are required to appoint someone to serve as the executor of their estate.
If you are named the executor of someone’s estate, you will be responsible for managing it day-to-day once the person in question has passed away. This encompasses a range of tasks from applying for probate and calculating/paying its inheritance tax bill, to ensuring beneficiaries receive assets. You may not wish to take on these responsibilities and if this is the case, you do not have to.
Renouncing the role
You can renounce your role as executor, as long as you have not already involved yourself in the affairs of the deceased’s estate. In order to complete this task, you will be required to fill out a deed of renunciation and submit this document to the probate registry. You are relieved of executorship the minute you sign the deed, but you can withdraw it before the deed reaches the registry if you change your mind. Otherwise, you will need to secure the leave of a district judge to withdraw the deed.
After the deed has come into effect, you lose your title to probate for the deceased’s estate, meaning that you can no longer legally serve as its executor. What happens next depends on whether the deceased appointed multiple executors in their will. If the person has more than one executor, the rest can then go ahead and apply for probate without you. But if you were the only executor and the deceased did not name an alternative in their will, the court will need to appoint an administrator.
But what if you do not want something so final? Say you are one of three executors. You are all children of the deceased and one sibling lived closer to the parent who has died. It makes sense for them to take control of the executorship process, but you need a failsafe in case your sibling falls ill. Renouncing your role would not be appropriate in this situation, so you should reserve power instead.
With this option, you can unofficially leave the day-to-day running of the deceased’s estate. But you can step in later, should the remaining executor become unable to fulfil their duties. It is important to note that in order to reserve power as an executor, there must be another executor willing to apply for probate and formal notice must be given to the executor acting with power reserved.
Prestige Tax and Trust Services
If you believe this option is appropriate for you, ask a solicitor to draw up documents allowing you to reserve power as an executor. It is wise to gain expert guidance on this matter, to ensure that you fulfil any legal requirements. Prestige Tax and Trust Services’ team has the expertise required to provide advice on probate matters, helping you navigate the duties than come with executorship.