I’m an executor. Do I have to act?

The role of executor isn’t always easy or straightforward. You may feel that it will be too much for you at a time when you are grieving, or that you simply do not have enough time to give to be able to carry out your responsibilities properly. It is important that you think about whether you wish to carry out your role. You have several options available to you if you do not wish to act.

For more information on what an executor is and what they need to do after someone has died, click here.

What can I do if I do not want to act?

Ask someone to change their Will

If the person who has named you as executor in their Will is still living, you can always ask them to change their Will and name someone else instead of yourself.

Renouncing your role

If the person has died and you have not yet taken any steps to deal with the assets or liabilities, you may formally step down as executor. This is known as renouncing. You will need to complete a standard Form of Renunciation (Form PA15), which is available from the Probate Registry. You should complete and sign this form, and hand it to the person who will be dealing with administering the estate.

If you have already started to deal with the assets and liabilities, such as closing a bank account or paying any debts of the estate, you cannot step down.

Reserving your power

It may be that you do not wish to step down from your role completely. You can temporarily step down, and only act if, for instance, another executor is unable to complete the estate administration.

If this is the case, you can ask the other executors to reserve power to you. You can notify the other executors in writing that you wish to have power reserved to you. Alternatively, they can complete a standard form notifying you that they will be applying for Probate themselves, and that you have power reserved.

Can I ask someone else to take over my duties as an executor?

If you wish, you can name someone else to take over your duties as an executor. You can do this by naming someone as your attorney specifically for this purpose. Form PA11 is available from the Gov.uk website, which you can complete. You should then hand this to the person who will be dealing with the estate.

If you already have an Enduring Power of Attorney or Lasting Power of Attorney in place which has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, you can use this instead. You cannot use either of these documents if they have not been registered.

You can contact the HM Courts and Tribunals Service Probate Registry helpline on 0300 303 0648. They will advise on the best option for you. Alternatively, you should seek professional legal advice.