Renunciation of An Executor

What is an executor?

An executor is a person or people appointed under the terms of a Will to administer a deceased’s estate.

In broad terms, the executor will undertake tasks such as liquidating assets, transferring or selling property, discharging liabilities and arranging for the distribution of the estate.

Depending upon the nature of the estate the role of an executor may be straightforward or extremely complex.

Often, when a person is preparing their Will, they will ask their preferred executor whether they are happy to take on this responsibility. However, circumstances can change (be they personal or in relation to the estate itself) and, following an individual’s death, the nominated executor may no longer wish to act.

In this article, Samuel Dale considers what actions an executor can take in such circumstances. If you are concerned about how an executor is dealing with an estate or indeed if they are failing to do so, it may be appropriate to take action to have them removed as executor.

Can an executor resign?

It is certainly possible for an executor to “resign” (or renounce). However, this can only be done if an executor has not already started dealing with the estate. This is known as “intermeddling”.
This can be achieved by signing a deed of renunciation.

Why would an executor want to renounce?

There are numerous reasons why an executor may want to renounce. It may be that personal circumstances mean that it is not practical to take on such a responsibility. There may also be disputes amongst beneficiaries or family members and the executor does not wish to become involved in the same.

What is considered “intermeddling”?

Intermeddling could include selling assets belonging to the deceased, collecting any debts due to the estate or paying any debts or disposing of any personal belongings of the deceased.

It is not considered intermeddling if an individual makes funeral arrangements or if the only involvement is gathering paperwork pertaining to the estate or holding on to personal belongings to keep them safe.
The above examples are not exhaustive and professional advice should be sought before concluding whether an executor has intermeddled or not.

Are there any alternatives to renouncing?

If there are other executors appointed in the Will, the other executors could apply for a Grant of Probate with what is known as “power reserved” to any executors who do not wish to be directly involved.
This allows the executor with power reserved to them to not be involved in dealing with the estate whilst still having the ability to act (by application to the Probate Registry) as executor in the future if there is a need or desire to do so.

Alternatively, rather than renouncing as an executor, an alternative may be to instruct solicitors to assist in dealing with the estate. This ensures that the estate is dealt with appropriately.

Butcher & Barlow LLP

At Butcher & Barlow we offer a wide range of tailored services and can provide as much assistance as an executor may require. With a large team of experts who specialise in Probate work, we are here to help with all matters in this field. To arrange an appointment, please contact or local office today. You can also contact Sam on 01270 762521 or at