Can children be forced to administer/execute the estate of a deceased parent?

Mother in hospice; father gets everything. There are 4 children who want to walk away from him; they want nothing to do with him nor anything from his estate. Can the children walk away and refuse any involvement? Father has a Will naming 2 children as executors but neither want to be executor. None of the 4 children want anything from the estate. The father has a lot of debt, is irresponsible and not trustworthy.

Asked on February 1, 2016 under Estate Planning, Ohio


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First of all, just because a person is nominated as executor of a Will, does not mean that they must serve. They can renounce their rights as executor and decline to act by simply signing and having notarized a renunciation (i.e. a letter stating that they do not wish to serve) and filing it with the applicable probate court. The court will then appoint someoned else to serve.
Additionally, as a beneficiary of a Will, a person need not accept their inheritance. They can "disclaim" or "renounce" their the bequest (i.e. gift). In order for it to be valid it must be an irrevocable and unqualified written refusal to accept the the inheritance(or any interest in it) and it must be delivered to the estate executor within a certain time after the testator's death (i.e. the person who made the Will). 
For state specific information you can contact the local probate court or a probate attorney in the county in which the probate was opened.

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