Legal Eagle : Renouncing your role as executor of a will
The Wills Act provides that everyone may devise, bequeath or dispose of his real or personal estate by Will, provided the Will is executed pursuant to the provisions of the Act.
A Will is a written document, which provides for the administration and distribution of the deceased property at the date of death.
Anyone who makes a Will is usually required to name an executor (male) or executrix (female) or executors and/or executrixes of his or her Will.
Often times, the person or persons are not advised about their appointment until the death of the testator (the deceased) and/or upon the Will being produced.
The persons may wish to renounce the appointment for various reasons.
DUTIES OF THE EXECUTOR
Generally, the duties of the executor or executrix include, among other things, making funeral arrangements and paying all expenses relating thereto, probating the Will, gathering and protecting the estate of the deceased to prevent waste, distributing the estate in accordance with the provisions of the Will and paying all the just debts of the testator.
In the event that person does not wish to act in that capacity, the Executors’ Renunciation Act (hereinafter called “the Act”) will come to their aid.
Section 2 of the Act provides that: “Any person named and appointed as executor or executrix who shall not in any way acted or interfered with the estate of his or her testator or testatrix and who at any time execute and Record in the Record Office, a deed of renunciation and disclaimer of such office ... shall be immediately on the record of such deed of renunciation be absolutely relieved and discharged of the said trust.”
The said section also provides that the executor or executrix who has taken such action shall not be joined as plaintiff or defendant in any action.
Importantly, section 3 of the Act provides that if the aforesaid action is taken, the executor or executrix “shall be deemed and taken to have forever abandoned and surrendered all right, title, interest and claim to the office and appointment of executor or executrix under the will of the person by whom he or she was so named”. In addition, the said executor or executrix shall not be entitled to a claim or grant of probate of the Will of the testator or testatrix (female).
Anyone who is appointed by a Will to act in any administrative position should first consult a lawyer to ascertain what is required to discharge the duties assigned to the position.
So next time, on learning of an appointment under a Will, take action either to renounce or relinquish your role or otherwise act in accordance with the provisions of the Will, the Wills Act and other relevant laws.
- Keith N. Bishop is an Attorney-at-Law and senior partner in the firm of Bishop & Partners. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and by WhatApps at 876-4608231.