Can I resign as executor of an estate?
Yes, you can resign as executor of an estate. This is true even if you have previously agreed to be the executor of an estate.
Resigning after accepting the role of executor
If you have already accepted your role as executor, and undertaken actions that amount to ‘managing the estate’, it is still possible to resign as executor. These actions could include contacting beneficiaries, transferring assets or determining debts and income of the estate. Given that you have already accepted and acted upon your role as executor, renouncing your powers is not as simple as walking away.
To renounce your executorship, you must apply to the Supreme Court of the relevant State/Territory with a written Letter of Renunciation, as well as provide the Court with any information you have gathered in relation to the deceased estate during your time acting as executor. It is important to understand that once you have renounced your executorship, you are unable to be reinstated as executor unless the Court consents.
We recommend seeking legal assistance when undertaking this process, to lessen the administrative burden of renunciation and to ensure no issues or complications arise.
Resigning before acting as executor
If you have not yet commenced acting as executor, and wish to be removed from the responsibility of executorship, the process is similar and simpler.
If there are other executors named in the Will, they will note your renunciation when they apply for Probate. You will likely be required to sign a renunciation form as proof, which will be filed with the Probate application.
If you were the sole executor in the Will, it is still possible to renounce your duties. A suitable replacement may be suggested by yourself to the Court, such as a family member or trusted friend of the deceased. If no other suitable replacement exists, the Court may appoint an executor themselves, or require a family member to apply for a ‘Letter of Administration with the Will annexed’.
In either case, you should inform the beneficiaries and any co-executors of your decision to resign as soon as possible. You should also seek legal advice if you are uncertain about the process or your legal obligations as an executor.
How we can help
If you have been appointed as executor of a Will but do not wish to act, contact us today. With over 25 years of experience in Wills and Estate Planning, we can make the process run as smoothly as possible.
What is an executor of an estate?
An executor of an estate is a person who is named in a Will to manage and administer the estate of a deceased person. The executor’s primary role is to ensure that the wishes of the deceased, as set out in the Will, are carried out as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Some of the key responsibilities of an executor of an estate may include:
- Obtaining the grant of probate: The executor must apply for a grant of probate from the Supreme Court in the state or territory where the deceased person lived. This is a legal process that confirms the validity of the will and gives the executor the legal authority to administer the estate.
- Collecting and valuing assets: The executor must locate and secure all the assets of the estate, such as property, bank accounts, investments, and personal possessions. They must also have these assets valued and assessed for tax purposes.
- Paying debts and taxes: The executor must identify and pay any debts or taxes owed by the estate, including funeral expenses, outstanding bills, and taxes owed to the government.
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries: Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the executor must distribute the remaining assets of the estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will. They may need to sell assets to raise cash to pay any legacies or bequests.
- Keeping accurate records: Throughout the process of administering the estate, the executor must keep accurate records of all transactions, such as payments made and received, correspondence, and other relevant information.
The role of an executor can be complex and time-consuming, and it may be subject to legal obligations and requirements. It’s important to seek professional advice from an estate lawyer or accountant to ensure that the estate is administered in accordance with the law and the wishes of the deceased.