Executor Resignation

While you may have initially felt confident enough to take on the role of executor, you may subsequently discover that there is a lot more involved that you thought. You may even feel that the role is far too demanding both in terms of its time requirement and the strains caused by the complexity of the estate. You may even feel that you’ve taken on more than you can cope with.

The good news is that you don’t have to complete the job even where you have given your prior agreement and/or have been approved by the court. However, there will be some procedural requirements that you must first deal with before vacating the position. Given that you took on the role of executor, you cannot simply walk away of your own accord. As a matter of law, once you commence acting as executor, or intermeddle in an estate as it’s also called, you are responsible for the administration of the estate. As such, if you wish to resign as executor after taking control of the testator’s property, you must formally renounce your position in writing. In order to do this, you will need to submit a letter of renunciation in writing to the probate court. The precise form of this letter can vary from state to state. As such, you should check with your local probate office to see what precise form is required.

You will also have to provide the court with any information you have already gathered in relation to the deceased’s estate. This information will subsequently be passed on to the person who takes on the role of executor following your departure. If there was a second or alternate executor named in the will, this person will be asked to accept the role. If they are unwilling or unable to accept the role, the court will choose someone to act as executor in the same way as it would choose a person to act as an administrator if there was no will – see above.

For more on executor resignation see our book on executors and probate!




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Executors Guide to Probate

How To Probate An Estate - A Step-By-Step Guide for Executors


This book is essential reading for anyone contemplating acting as an executor of someone’s estate! Learn about the various stages of probate and what an executor needs to do at each stage to successfully navigate his way through to closing the estate and distributing the deceased’s assets.

Published December 2010

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