While it doesn’t often happen, there is a legal process in place for the executor of an estate to resign from that position. When this occurs, it does often mean that the probate process comes to a temporary halt, but this delay may not be very long. If you are an executor who is considering resigning or if you’re an heir to an estate that has had its executor resign, it can help to understand what will occur next.
Prior to Being Appointed
Before being appointed, it is possible for the named executor to decline the position. They will need to file specific paperwork stating that they are renouncing the position and submit it to the court. When this occurs, the first thing the court will do is review the will. If the decedent named a successor or backup executor, that person will then be contacted. They will then have the choice to accept the job or decline. If they decline, one of the heirs may petition to serve as the executor.
What Happens if the Executor Resigns After Being Appointed?
When an appointed executor decides to resign, they must petition the court for permission to quit the estate. The court does not have to grant this request, and if they do not, the executor must continue serving in the role. The executor will need to show good cause for their resignation, such as a medical condition that is preventing them from fulfilling the role. The court will consider whether or not the resignation is in the estate’s best interest before granting or denying it.
If the request is granted, the court once again looks for a successor executor. If there isn’t one, they will follow the established probate laws in their state. Typically, these laws state that any surviving spouse serves as the executor, followed by a child, sibling/parent, and then any other heir. However, these family members and other heirs can petition to serve or can present arguments as to why one person should not be appointed as the executor. In the end, the court will make the final decision.
Need help drafting your will so that you have a successor executor? Are you an executor who wants to resign? The legal team at Michael F. Kanzer & Associates can help you with either of these needs and any other estate-related need you may have. Contact us today to request a free consultation.