Can the alternate executor just begin getting a Will probated or does the main executor have to relinquish their duties by legal notice?

UPDATED: Feb 29, 2012

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Can the alternate executor just begin getting a Will probated or does the main executor have to relinquish their duties by legal notice?

On my grandmother’s Will there is an executrix who is an aged family member now and is not able to drive around and do the things needed to probate the Will. But one of my cousins is mentioned “in the event that she is unwilling or unable to serve as executrix” as the alternate executor. The executrix has done nothing in 2 years since my grandmother’s passing. Can my cousin take over probating the Will as the alternate now? Or does the main executrix need to relinquish her duties to him in a formal way such as a notarized letter or something? What would be required for him to take over?

Asked on February 29, 2012 under Estate Planning, North Carolina


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Yes, the proposed executrix must relinquish their duty.  Some states had what is called a Deed of Renunciation.  Check with the probate Court in the county in which your grandmother resided at the time of her death and speak with the clerk and ask if there is a form that they prefer.  They can not give legal advice but they can give information.  Good luck.

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