Deed of Renunciation Explained

23 September 2019

If an Executor doesn't want to act during Probate, then they can 'renounce' from their role. This means that they are giving up the role of Executor and its responsibilities, and this is done using a document called a Deed of Renunciation.

Who Can Be Appointed as Executor?

When making a Will, one of the most important considerations is who to appoint as the Executor(s). This can be relatives, friends, solicitors or banks, or a combination of these. Some people choose family members or close friends because they are familiar with their affairs. Others choose a solicitor or professional because they have the necessary expertise to administer the Estate.

In principle there is not a maximum number of Executors that can be named in the Will, but a maximum of four Executors can apply for the Grant of Probate.

What's Involved in the Role of Executor?

Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy and it's important to take time and space to grieve. While some consider it a privilege to have been trusted to act as an Executor, others can deem it to be an impossible task at an already challenging time.

Executors are responsible for all of the legal and administrative work associated with Probate.

This includes (but is not limited to):

  • creating an inventory of the Estate
  • notifying all asset holders and creditors of the death
  • calculating and paying Inheritance Tax
  • applying for the Grant of Probate
  • collecting the assets and selling or transferring these
  • settling any outstanding debts
  • distributing the Estate to the beneficiaries

Throughout the administration, it is likely that the Executors will be faced with a range of tax and legal challenges.

Renouncing as Executor of a Will

With so many responsibilities involved in being an Executor, it is understandable that some people will be unable or unwilling to take on this role. Some Executors therefore choose to renounce.

If you are considering renouncing as Executor, it is important to first be absolutely certain that you do not want to take on this role. While it is a big responsibility, you were considered to be the best person for the job and the most capable. If you are not sure, it is best to seek professional advice at this point. Once you are confident that you want to renounce your role as Executor, then a Deed of Renunciation must be completed.

By renouncing from the role of Executor, you will be waiving your right to deal with the administration of your loved one's Estate on a permanent basis, and this cannot usually be undone.

The Deed of Renunciation must be completed and signed by the person who is renouncing, in the presence of an impartial witness. It must also include a statement that the person has not intermeddled in the Estate.

If any Executor has intermeddled in the deceased's Estate, the Court will not accept the renunciation and it will be declared invalid. This is the only reason why an Executor be prevented from renouncing.

The renunciation takes effect from the day it is dated.

What Happens after an Executor Has Renounced?

Once you have signed a Deed of Renunciation, you cannot change your mind. The responsibility for administering the Estate will legally fall to the other Executor(s) named in the Will. If no other Executors were appointed, the Probate Court will appoint a replacement, which is usually the main Beneficiary of the Estate.

Renouncing as Executor does not stop you from inheriting from the Estate as a Beneficiary of the Will, it only affects your appointment as Executor.

Get Help from a Probate Specialist

As a Deed of Renunciation is a legal document, it is imperative that this document is executed correctly. For this reason, we would always recommend seeking professional advice from a Probate Specialist. At Co-op Legal Services, we can prepare a Deed of Renunciation on your behalf, and this would be included as part of our Probate Complete Service.

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