How do I opt out as an executor after death?

I am the executor of a friends estate? The estate attorney has done little to assist
and this has become to much to handle. The family is king my life pure hell. How
can I remove myself from this duty?

Asked on January 20, 2018 under Estate Planning, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you want to step down as the executor, you can do so before formal court appointment without even giving a reason. You do this by stating in a signed writing that you don't wish to serve. You then file it in probate court (the exact rules for this renunciation also vary by state). If you do file a disclaimer, notify the beneficiaries of the estate before submitting the document so as to give them time to find another executor. If you've already been appointed by the court, then in addition to the document you wrote up, you must file a petition for removal. The court will look at your reason for resigning such as ill health, a family emergency, etc. Further, if you've already been appointed executor, the court will require you give a detailed account of all work that you've performed. As a general rule, you will not obtain a formal release until you provide a detailed accounting. Finally, in some jurisdictions, you can resign by failing to take any action after the testator dies since a failure to act is viewed by the probate court as a renunciation of your duties as executor. At this point, you should consult directly with a local probate attorney; they can more further explain things to you pursuant to specific state law.

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