Sometimes people are appointed executors and quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the responsibilities. Whilst being an executor is a privilege – someone trusts you to look after their affairs after they have died – it also comes with onerous obligations. This is why you might wish to remove yourself as an executor. Before looking at the mechanisms to remove yourself as an executor, it is important to consider the duties the role of executor entails.
An executor has a wide range of duties which begin immediately the person for whom you are the executor dies. These duties involve dealing with the immediate as well as the longer-term requirements to administer the affairs of the deceased. You will need to either arrange for the following to be done or do them yourself:
All these duties are time consuming and, on occasion, complex. You are also dependent on others to provide information, and each organisation you communicate with will need evidence of your appointment as executor. If the deceased’s Estate is subject to Inheritance Tax further steps will be necessary.
If you decide that you no longer wish to be an executor, much depends on whether the person who appointed you is still living or has died.
If the person is still living and in full control of their faculties, you should explain why you do not wish to be an executor and why. Ask them to update their Will and remove you as an executor. This can be done quickly and easily through a Codicil to the Will, and the person’s solicitor will deal with that promptly.
If the individual has died, you can still remove yourself as an executor, but this needs to be done formally.
If the person who has appointed you as executor has died and you do not wish to be an executor, you can sign a Deed of Declinature. You need to make your decision about this before much progress has been made in the administration of the estate. If Confirmation has been granted in your favour alone, it is very much more difficult to remove yourself and have someone else appointed.
If you are having second thoughts about being an executor, you should contact your solicitor right away and explain the position. Your solicitor will advise you of your options and will explain that you need to act swiftly and before Confirmation is applied for to ensure the proper and prompt winding up of the estate.
If there are other executors appointed to act jointly with you or as a substitute, when you decline as executor, they will immediately be able to continue to deal with the administration of the estate. If you are the sole executor, the process of appointing an alternative is more complex.
Always think very carefully when you are asked to become an executor of someone’s Will. If you do wish to accept the position, albeit reluctantly, you should always remember that help is always at hand. If you instruct a solicitor to assist you in the administration of the estate, your solicitor will guide you through all of the steps required and deal with the vast majority of the work for you. However, it is important to appoint a solicitor who is skilled in this area of law.
Carol McGovern is a Senior Executry Paralegal and deals with all aspects of executry administration and related tax matters. If you have any questions about the issues covered here, or if you wish to discuss any other legal matter, then please complete our contact form or call us on 0131 225 1200.
Murray Beith Murray Executry group has assisted many families with the legal issues arising following the death of a relative. We have specialist solicitors who deal daily with the administration of estates on behalf of executors. They will answer all your questions and take away any worry you have about the administration of the estate. They will ensure the estate is wound up properly and professionally and will guide you through the entire process. If you do need our help and support, please contact us.