Can I request to be removed as the executor and beneficiary of a person’s Will?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I request to be removed as the executor and beneficiary of a person’s Will?

I am the executor and one of the beneficiaries of my mother’s Will, who is still living. I have asked her in person to remove me from both. Can I legally have this done?

Asked on March 7, 2019 under Estate Planning, Washington


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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes you can. If your mother will not change her Will to remove you as executor and beneficiary of her estate, then as a benficiary, you can "renounce" or "disclaim" your inheritance. In order for it to be valid to be valid it must be: in writing, be an unqualified irrevocable refusal to accept any interest n the asset, delivered to the executor within a set period of time from the date of the decedent's death (this timeframe depends on specific state law). The Will then determines who inherits your renounced share. Secondly, as to stepping down as the executor, you can step down before formal court appointment without even giving a reason. You do this by stating, in a signed writing, that you do not want to serve as executor. Then file it in probate court after the testator's death but before you're formally appointed by the court (the exact rules for this renunciation also vary by state). If you're filling a disclaimer, notify the estate heirs and beneficiaries before submitting the document in order to give them time to find another executor. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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