Do I have to be an executor if I’m named in a will?

by | Sep 18, 2022 | Wills

When losing a loved one, it can be challenging to focus on the legal processes that follow when you’re going through a period of grief.

If you’ve been appointed as an executor in the person’s will, you may feel an obligation to carry out their wishes. Not everyone is ready for this responsibility, so you may question whether you’re up to the task.

Don’t feel like you’re stuck in this position. If you aren’t sure about acting as an executor, this article will explain your options.


Leaving the role of executor

If you decide you don’t want to act as the executor of someone’s will, you can relinquish the role. Taking control of your loved one’s assets can be emotionally challenging, so don’t worry if you’re unable to cope.

 You’ll need to give up the position at the start of the process, as once you’ve started to execute the will, you’ll be legally bound to fulfilling the deceased’s wishes.

Acting as an executor is an important role to fill, so the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. We understand that acting as an executor can be stressful, and that’s why we offer our services, to support you through your time of need.

The process of withdrawing your rights as an executor is called renunciation. To do this, you will have to sign a PA15 form, giving up your probate executor rights. 

After completing this process, you cannot handle anything to do with the estate. This means that if you’ve already moved any possessions or tried to take over the bank accounts of the deceased, you can’t give up the executor’s role. If you do, you could be seen as mishandling the estate.

There are some things you can do which won’t classify as interfering with the estate, such as funeral planning or securing a property, so if you want to be involved with those, you don’t need to worry about any legal implications.

Once you have signed the renunciation form with a solicitor, you will be completely separated from the estate. 

It’s important to know, though, that you won’t be able to appoint someone else to take over the role yourself. Instead, a family member of the deceased will have to apply for the executor role.

If the will has named multiple executors, another person will be able to execute the will. 


Is renunciation the only option?

If you want to leave the role of the executor to someone else, you don’t always have to go through the renunciation process.

You are allowed to unofficially renounce the role and hand it to another executor named in the will. This process is called power reserved.

By choosing this option, you can pick back up the role of executor if the person you handed it to cannot continue doing so, but only if you feel up to the task.

Power reserve is the best course of action if you are further away from the estate and may struggle to carry out the role from your location. Any executor who lives closer to the estate can take control, leaving power reserved status to yourself or any other executors.

If you cannot act as an executor temporarily, you can give power of attorney to another person to act on your behalf. This means you can delegate any decisions to the person you have chosen as an attorney.


Ask for help

We understand the stress that comes with acting as an executor of an estate, but you don’t have to go through it alone. 

Harries Watkins Jones Wills and Probate have worked closely with families to help support them through executing a will. If you wish to renunciate your role, we can act as witnesses and guide you through the process. 

Get in touch with our team today.


The information provided is of a general nature. It is not a substitute for specific advice in your own circumstances. You are recommended to obtain specific professional advice from an appropriate professional before you take any action or refrain from action. Whilst we endeavour to use reasonable efforts to furnish accurate, complete, reliable, error free and up-to-date information, we do not warrant that it is such. We and our associates disclaim all warranties. The information can only provide an overview of the regulations in force at the date of publication, and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice.

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