Can a person named as executor of an estate refuse to perform that function?

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Can a person named as executor of an estate refuse to perform that function?

The person did not ask for or desire the responsibility. She is the daughter but is excluded from inheriting the property.

Asked on August 18, 2011 New Jersey

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for her loss and in top of it all, for her situation.  The answer to the question is yes, a person named as the executor in a Last Will and Testament can renounce their appointment if they should choose not to serve. Each state has different requirements so she should look in to what she has to do to in order to formally and legally renounce.  And she should also look in to contesting the Will if she has been disinherited.  It really sounds odd that a parent would do that to a child but then hold the child in such high regard as to appoint them the fiduciary.  It sounds like there may be undue influence here from somewhere.  Good luck to all. 

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If a will designates a certain person to be the executor or executrix of the state, the designated person is under no obligation to assume such duties and cannot be forced to do so. That is why most wills set forth the primary person designated for such a duty and several alternates in set order of desire.

If the person designated as the executor or executrix does not wish to assume such duties, the person should send a letter to that effect to the will's beneficiaries so that an alternate executor or executrix can be established.

When this happens, the original person designated for such role should sign a declaration stating the decline of the position and that the declaration is filed in the probate action in the event there are questions later why the first person designated is not acting for the estate.


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