Refusing to be an Executor of an Estate – Or are you legally obliged?

Refusing to be an Executor of an Estate – Or are you legally obliged?

My Uncle has just passed and I have found out that I am the Executor of the Estate. I really don’t want to do this!  Can I refuse or am I legally bound?  I haven’t signed any papers agreeing to this.

Finding out you are the Executor of a deceased Estate often comes as a shock. This is one good reason to ensure that any Executor named in your Will has consented to being an Executor. Being an Executor of someone’s Estate is a big responsibility as Executors are responsible for bringing in the assets of the Estate, paying any liabilities and then distributing the assets to beneficiaries as set out in the Will.

The good news is that you can refuse the appointment of Executor of your Uncle’s Estate. Under the legislation, a refusal to act as an Executor is called “renouncing”. To renounce your appointment as Executor the solicitor acting for the Estate will file a Renunciation of Probate signed by you in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. In signing this document, you represent to the Court that you have not meddled in the deceased’s Estate and that you renounce all rights, powers and authorities that were given to you under your Uncle’s Will.

Once the Renunciation of Probate has been filed with the Court, you will be removed as Executor of the Estate. If your Uncle appointed more than one Executor then the other Executors will be responsible for the administration of the Estate. If you were the only Executor appointed as Executor of your Uncle’s Estate, then the Court will usually grant administration of the Estate to the main beneficiary under your Uncle’s Will.

If you decide to renounce your appointment as Executor, you need to act as quickly as possible to file the Renunciation in the Court and ensure that you do not take any steps that could be seen as accepting the appointment of Executor, such as arranging the funeral or making payments to creditors of the Estate.

At Heckenberg Lawyers we have assisted countless client’s who have been appointed Executors in a Will without being asked by the deceased and we ensure that they are removed as Executor in a timely and effective way.

If you would like further information on Wills & Estates and Probate Law or need a qualified Sucession and Probate Lawyer that can help you, please call Heckenberg Lawyers today on 02 9221 2779, or email Graeme Heckenberg the expert Lawyer on all matters relating to Wills, Estates and Probate Law on:

Offices are conveniently located in Sydney city close to all transport links.

See our Will Dispute Lawyer & Contesting Wills page for more information on the Wills & Estates services we provide or contact us for advice specific to your situation.