I've been chosen as an executor. How do I refuse

Published 22 Jan 2019

Author: Richele Nelsen

Being named an executor of someone's estate can be either a big compliment or a big headache. Without the proper legal understanding or financial background, navigating what to do next can be an overwhelming task.

Certain steps must be followed when undertaking this role. But if a person chooses not to take this on, there are ways to get out of it all together.

Because it is a time-consuming position, and one that can last for many years following probate court, the executor must fully consider whether he or she is the best person for the job.

How to refuse an executor appointment

Often, those who are appointed as executor are close family of the deceased, and are still going through the grieving process. This is one reason that people may want to refuse such an appointment.

To do so, the executor must renounce probate, which in effect transfers the role to a third party representative or trustee company. If probate has already been granted, this process can be harder, but it's still possible under the Probate and Administration Act 1898.

An appointed executor is under no legal obligation to accept such a position.

If you believe that someone else would be better suited to manage an estate, perhaps someone with more legal or accounting experience, consider transferring these responsibilities to ensure that they're performed correctly. You don't want to end up making a mistake, like missing a deadline or mismanaging accounts.

Steps executors must take

If you do decide to take on the role of executor, there are steps you must take to get everything in order. These include, but aren't limited to:

  • Locating the Will.
  • Meeting with family.
  • Determining value of assets.
  • Applying for a grant of probate.
  • Distributing the estate.
  • Making funeral arrangements.
  • Creating and managing trusts.

Probate can sometimes take years, depending on the value of the estate, how many beneficiaries there are, if they need to be located and other factors. It's the executors job to ensure all of these aspects are taken care of, so it takes up a lot of time and energy.

It will take at least six months from the date of death to finalise everything, which is the minimum under the Succession Act 2006. The NSW Trustee and Guardian says that it normally takes between nine and 12 months.

If you have questions about estate management, probate or contesting a Will, contact our team of experienced legal professionals. At Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers, we can provide a free consultation.

  • NSW Offices
  • North Parramatta
  • Sydney
  • Penrith
  • Ryde
  • Blacktown
  • Liverpool
  • Chatswood
  • Campbelltown
  • Erina
  • Newcastle
  • Wollongong
  • Ballina
  • Tamworth
  • Wagga Wagga
  • Miranda
  • Rockdale
  • Baulkham Hills
  • Bondi Junction
  • Mudgee
  • Tweed Heads
  • VIC Offices
  • Melbourne
  • QLD Offices
  • Brisbane
  • Bundall
  • ACT Offices
  • Canberra City