Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Named as executor, but wish you weren't? You have options
Posted by Lynne Butler
"I agreed some time ago to be an executrix for a friend in her will as she was about to undergo surgery and wanted her affairs in order in a hurry. I now realize that the responsibility is more than I wish to handle. I have informed my friend of this and asked that she seek an alternative. It is my understanding that to date she has not done this. Where would this put me if indeed she doesn't remove my name as Executrix?"
Perhaps your friend hasn't changed her will yet because she really can't think of anyone else she trusts and who she thinks would do a good job. She may yet make this change once she thinks it through and finalizes her choice. You've been honest with her about your feelings on the subject, which I think is a good idea as it gives her the chance to find someone else.
And you're right that being an executor is one heck of a responsibility. I wish more executors would put some real thought into whether they want to accept the role.
If she passes away while you are named as her executor, and if you still don't want to do the job, don't worry. You have options.
The first option is to renounce or give up the appointment. There are two keys to doing this correctly; one is the right form, and the other is the right time. A renunciation has to be done formally, in writing, in the form set out in the probate rules in your province. You could ask a lawyer to help you with that if you don't feel that you can find, execute and file the document on your own.
As I mentioned, timing is crucial. If you plan to renounce, you must do it right at the beginning, before you take any actions on behalf of the estate. If you start work on the estate and then decide to renounce, you may find that the judge won't allow you to do that. An executor can't just quit once he or she has begun work, so keep that in mind.
If you were to renounce, this would allow the person named as alternate executor to step up and act as the executor, just as if you were never named. I suspect that in your case this might be a problem, simply because if your friend had a suitable alternate, you wouldn't be asking this question. If you were to renounce and there was no named alternate, a family member or beneficiary of your friend (depending on the situation) would have to step forward and ask the court to appoint him as administrator of the estate.
The second option is to accept the executorship appointment and hire a trust company to do the work for you. Under this arrangement, you would retain the final decision-making authority but you would have a team of trust officers to do the actual leg-work. They would take on the jobs that you would otherwise have to do, such as appraising and listing the house, sorting through paperwork, getting probate, paying bills, corresponding with insurance companies and banks, filing the tax return, keeping financial records, sending releases to beneficiaries, and all of the other tasks that fall on executors. The trust company would be paid by the estate, out of funds that otherwise would be paid to you as an executor fee.
This is a really workable solution for executors who find that they simply don't have the expertise or the time to do the job right, or are too far away, or who are simply fed up with dealing with the beneficiaries. I work in a trust company, as most readers of this blog know, and I've seen the variety of estates that pass through here; there is very little a trust company can't handle.
So rest assured that even if your friend doesn't remove you from her will, there are viable options open to you.