It isn’t uncommon for someone to take on the role of executor of a will only to realize that the job is more than she bargained for. Maybe the beneficiaries make unreasonable demands, or perhaps the estate is far more complex than she was led to believe. An executor can resign, but getting out of the job requires certain formalities.
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Meet with the family and beneficiaries and tell them of your decision. The testator, or the person who left the will, may have named an alternate executor in case you were unable or unwilling to do the job. If not, you may be able to sign the position over to a family member if anyone is willing. The family might have suggestions regarding someone else who is appropriate for the job. If no one is willing to step up and take your place, the court will appoint someone, usually a professional.
Contact the probate court clerk in the county where the will is being probated. Tell the clerk that you would like to resign the position. Some states have forms available so you only have to fill in the blanks, sign it and submit it. Other states might require a written letter or statement from you. The clerk can advise you regarding the proper protocol in your area. You can also nominate your successor at this time if you were able to find someone willing to take over for you.
Prepare an accounting of all acts you took as executor while you were in office. The accounting should document all money you paid out on behalf of the estate and include receipts, as well as bank account statements showing any money that came in and where you put it. Give the original to the court and a copy to each of the beneficiaries and each family member. Turn over to the court any documentation you’ve gathered regarding the estate, such as account statements, deeds, leases, mortgages and loan documents, as well as any claims that creditors might have made against the estate while you were in office.
Tips & Warnings
- If you decide to sign over the executor’s job before you take an oath of office and accept it, the process is much easier. If you do not come forward to be signed in to the position, most states will automatically “fire” you within approximately a month’s time. Generally, if probate does not proceed along proper channels within 30 days, the court or one of the beneficiaries will file the necessary paperwork to have you removed from office.
References & Resources
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