If you have been named as an executor in someone’s Will, you can choose not to take up the position if you don’t feel able. We look at how to renounce probate, the reasons why this might be the right choice for you and how the estate will be administered if you do not take on the job.

Winding up someone’s estate after their death is a major task. It is time-consuming and can often become complex, particularly with larger estates or estates with many different assets to be liquidated or debts to be paid. 

As an executor, you have the option of asking a probate solicitor to deal with the administration process on your behalf. This can be a good option as it allows you to take up the role of executor but without doing the work or taking on the responsibility of corresponding with asset holders and creditors. 

Why renounce probate? 

However, it may be that you would rather not be involved at all and you want to avoid being an executor. In this case, you have the option of renouncing probate.  

Common reasons for renouncing probate include: 

  • Not having the time or capacity to take on the role 
  • Not wanting the personal liability for mistakes that comes with being an executor 
  • Not wanting to be involved with the estate because of a potentially difficult family situation and the risk of disputes 
  • The estate is not solvent 
  • You did not expect to be named as an executor 

Intermeddling 

If you think you may want to renounce probate it is essential not to take any actions in dealing with the estate. This is known as intermeddling and if someone has intermeddled, they cannot then renounce probate. 

Intermeddling is classed as performing the duties that a personal representative would carry out when administering an estate. It could include paying the deceased’s debts, disposing of assets or taking actions in their business. 

Some small acts are permitted and will not generally be classed as intermeddling, although it is important to tread carefully. The courts will usually allow the following: 

  • Making funeral arrangements 
  • Insuring the deceased’s assets 
  • Making their assets safe 
  • Arranging for emergency repairs to property 
  • Making a list of the deceased’s assets 
  • Collecting paperwork together 

How to renounce probate 

If you wish to renounce probate, you will need to fill in the court form PA15Reunciation (Will). This is then given to the person who will be taking responsibility for the estate administration so that they can submit it to the Probate Registry when applying for a grant. 

Who will administer the estate if I renounce probate?

The Will may name a replacement executor or more than one executor, in which case that individual can deal with the estate administration. 

If no-one else is named, then someone can apply to be appointed as an administrator. This is usually someone entitled to inherit under the deceased’s Will, such as a close family member.

An alternative to renouncing probate

An alternative to renouncing probate exists. If you do not want to renounce but you do not wish to act as an executor, you can have power reserved. This means that you will not need to deal with the estate administration but you will be able to apply to be an executor in the future, should this be necessary or should you wish to be involved at a later date. 

Whoever takes on the task of estate administration has the option of asking a probate solicitor to deal with the day-to-day work of winding up the deceased’s affairs. This can be a good option for those with limited time or with concerns about the more complex aspects of estate administration, such as calculating and paying tax liabilities and preparing estate accounts. 

If  you would like to speak to one of our expert estate planners, ring us on 01634 353 658 or email us at rob@pembrokewillwriters.com