How to decline being a will executor after a death

Occasionally when a will is opened after a person's death, a loved one will discover that he or she has been named executor of the will. Being the will's executor can require a considerable amount of time, and some people do not want to assume this responsibility. It is possible to decline being the executor of a will, but due to the fact that a will is a legal document, you must go through the proper legal channels to do so.

Get a Renunciation of Executor form. This form is downloadable on many local government websites and may have a different name based upon the jurisdiction that you live in, but it serves the same purpose. The form severs you as the executor of the will, and the responsibility will be passed onto the co-executor if one was named or a court-appointed executor if no other executor was assigned.

Fill out the entire form, which in most cases will consist of only one page. Write in the name of the deceased, the date of death, the date of the will and your name in the appropriate boxes.

Sign the form in front of a notary. Have the notary sign the form as a witness and place their seal on the form. The Renunciation of Executor form will not be legal if it is not notarised.

File the Renunciation of Executor form with the appropriate local court. The court where the form must be filed varies by locality, but will often be with the surrogate court or probate court of a jurisdiction.


If a sole executor files a Renunciation of Executor form and no other family member or friend steps forward to serve as executor, the probate court can name a trust company to serve as executor of the will. The fees charged by the trust company, which can add up quickly, will come out of the estate.

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About the Author

Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.