Someone you know has died and you find out that you have been appointed as an Executor of their Will. As an Executor, you will need to prove their Will to the Probate Office and then administer the estate. You might not have known they had appointed you and you don't want to or don't have the time to be the Executor. Is there a way to refuse that appointment?
When making a Will, it is advisable to check that someone is happy to be your Executor before appointing them in your Will. Being an Executor can be time-consuming and depending on your circumstances, an emotionally and relationally fraught experience.
Even if you agree to be an Executor, between the Will being made and the person passing away, circumstances may change, and you may no longer be able to or want to fulfil that role. If that is the case, there are two options: you can renounce your appointment or you can reserve leave. To renounce your appointment, you will need to see the lawyer handling the estate and sign a renunciation form. This is then lodged with the Probate Office so that the next appointed Executor can act. You can withdraw your renunciation at any time. Reserving leave is most often used when multiple people have been appointed as Co-Executors, such as the children of the deceased, and one Executor decides they don't have time or that it's not practicable for them to be appointed. In that case, you will be asked to sign a Reserve Leave Authority, confirming you do not wish to act at this time but that you reserve the right to come and prove the Will at any time.
Before deciding to proceed with either of these options, you should seek independent legal advice to make sure you understand the consequences of these decisions. If you decide not to act as an Executor, you may find it difficult to have any say about how the estate is administered.