Help! I Don't Want To Be The Executor!
Being named as an executor can be an honour – it’s a sign that a friend or family member trusted you enough to administer her estate. However, it’s also a lot of hard work…and for some it’s just not worth the headache. No one can be forced to be an executor and a named executor who does not wish to act and has not yet administered the estate can renounce the appointment.
While an executor who wants to renounce her appointment isn’t required to provide an explanation, some of the more frequent reasons include: lack of time, a conflict of interest (e.g. the executor has a claim against the estate), a bad relationship with the beneficiaries, the estate is insolvent, or there will be litigation involving the estate.
Whatever the reason an executor has for renouncing, the renunciation must occur before probate has been granted (and should occur before the executor has started to administer any assets – or the executor may be said to have “intermeddled” with the estate).
So, how does an executor renounce? This can be done by completing a renunciation (which is form 74.11 under the Rules of Civil Procedure and officially called a “Renunciation of Right to a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee (or Succeeding Estate Trustee) With a Will”).
If probate has been granted and an executor wishes to step down, it is still possible; however, it is a little bit more complicated (and time consuming). A court application must be commenced under s. 37(1) of the Trustee Act and the court must order the removal.
Any executor applying to court for removal should give serious consideration to also passing accounts or, alternatively, providing estate accounts to the beneficiaries and obtaining a release – an executor’s liability for her administration of an estate isn’t automatically “waived” with a removal order.