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The Deed of Renunciation

In probate, the deed of renunciation is a useful tool. Sometimes the feeling of responsibility of being named as executor of a will can be too much. It can be an overwhelming feeling that is just undue pressure after also dealing with the death of a friend or loved one. Just knowing how important a job it is to do correctly and without any legal issues can be enough to make people want to stay away from the title of executor.

Sometimes being executor is simply not a practical decision, depending on what else is happening within the potential executor’s life at the time. Previous engagements, disputes, a prison term, or the possibility of not being seen as completely transparent can all make dealing with the deceased person’s estate difficult.

But isn’t being the executor set in stone? Surely being named to carry out this important job is just one of those things that has to be got on with, no matter how unwell or anxious it is making you feel inside? No matter how difficult it might make relationships with friends or family?

Not so. It is perfectly possible to renounce your responsibilities as executor if you believe that you need to, or if it is decided that it is best that you do not perform this function. If this is what you wish to do, it is best to do it as soon as possible, to allow another executor to be put in place.

This is where the ‘deed of renunciation’ (also known as the ‘disclaimer of interest’) comes in. This document can be drafted by your solicitor, or the estate’s solicitor or, if no solicitor is being used in the probate process, then a professional who understands probate will be able to help (a professional such as those who work at Probate-A-Will.co.uk). If renouncing your status as executor is definitely something you wish to do, then the deed of renunciation will enable you to step away from the responsibility. However, it is extremely important to note that once the deed has been signed, there is no way to revoke it – you cannot change your mind and become executor once more.

Another important aspect to bear in mind when renouncing your executor title is that, if there are no other executors for the estate, then an administrator will be put in place. This person will be chosen in the same way as the rules of intestacy dictate, starting with the surviving spouse and falling to the next in line after that if another deed of renunciation is drawn up (ie if that person also does not wish to be executor). Before signing the deed of renunciation, you should ask yourself whether it is a good idea for other family members to be involved in executing the deceased’s will. If not, then perhaps it would be better to seek advice from a professional before formally signing. You can always defer the role of executor, rather than give it up entirely.

It is also impossible to renounce your role as executor if you have already done any probate work, or ‘intermeddling with the estate’ as dictated by the Administration of Estates Act 1925. This could be anything from paying off the deceased’s debt(s), continuing to run the deceased’s business matters, or selling any of the deceased’s assets. Arranging a funeral is not intermeddling.

If you think you need a deed of renunciation, then don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more. If you already have all the facts you need, then a form can be found here: http://www.iwc-ltd.co.uk/probate__deed-of-renunciation.html for just £12.50 + VAT.

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