An executor is a person named in a will who is responsible carrying out the terms of the will. Generally speaking, this means taking control of a deceased’s persons assets when they pass away, and distributing their estate according to the terms in their will. Hopefully if you are appointed as someone’s executor, they will have had a conversion with you prior to appointing you in their will and confirmed that you understand your duties and are willing to act as their executor. It is a job that requires a great deal of work and responsibility, so we always recommend that will-makers discuss the appointment with their proposed executors prior to creating their will.
However, circumstances can change and even if you were initially prepared to take on the role of executor, you may find that you are unable or unwilling to do so when the time comes. Fortunately, if you find yourself named as executor in someone’s will and you do not want to take on the onerous job, you do not have to, provided that you take the right steps.
No one can be forced to act as an executor. Provided that you renounce the appointment prior to administering the estate, it is fairly simple to do so by completing a renunciation and filing it with the court. However, if you have begun to take actions on behalf of the deceased’s estate, it may be too late to simply file a renunciation.
If you have begun acting as an executor and find that you cannot or do not want to continue, a court order will be required in order for you to step down as an executor. However, the court may refuse to allow you to step down once you have begun to administer the estate. The court will look at number of factors, including your reasons for renouncing, as well as the existence of a qualified replacement. If the court allows you to withdraw as executor, they will require a detailed account of all the work you have done as executor to date.
It is also important to note that if you step down as executor, you cannot later become involved in administrating the estate.
If you do withdraw as executor, the alternate executor named in the will (if there is one) can apply to probate the will. If there is no alternate executor, or if the alternate is also unable or unwilling to act, then another suitable person can apply to the court to be appointed administrator. For this reason, we always suggest that people name at least one alternate executor in their will.
Author: Jane Otterstrom
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (250)448-2637 or any of our lawyers practicing in the area of wills and estates at the following:Jennette Vopicka: firstname.lastname@example.org Danielle (Dani) Brito: email@example.com Jane Otterstrom: firstname.lastname@example.org