What if I don’t want to be an Executor??
There are many ways and processes to apply for a job. In general, when applying for a job we have some previous experience or formal education for the position we are applying for. If you are lucky enough, you are applying for a job that you really are hoping for, something that will grow your career.
Oddly enough, the job of an Executor is not something we apply for. There is no “on the job” training….heck sometimes an Executor doesn’t even know that they got the job until the first day on the job! Sometimes there is advance notice, although it may be a conversation that can sound much like…..”Oh yeah, I got my will done the other day, by the way your my executor.”
What happens if this is not something that you really want to take on as a job? It is ok to admit this little secret, someone tells you that you are their executor and then panic alarms go off in your head while you smile and nod. Don’t feel guilty if this has happened to you, it is a good thing to have recognized it!
The first thing I want to tell you is that you do not have to accept the job of the Executor. You do have the right to say no, however don’t wipe the sweat from your forehead just yet. While it can be as simple as flat out saying “no”, it’s not the recommended way to go about that. This is a sensitive topic and the person who chose you probably put a lot of thought into their choice.
What should you do if you don’t want to be an Executor?
• Why are you thinking of saying no? It is always best to write a list of the reasons you are thinking of declining before deciding. Sometimes once things are listed out they do not seem as bad as you thought.
• Have a conversation with the person appointing you. If you can, (as long as the person has not already passed away) have an open honest conversation with them. Find out the reasons why they chose you. Perhaps it is because you are already helping this person with their finances, or because you already know a lot of the advisors for the estate. There may be many more reasons than you expected for this person’s choice.
• If the person who chose you has already passed away, you can renounce your right to be the executor. Keep in mind that you can only do this if you haven’t already started acting as the Executor. If you have started contacting people and institutions to get the estate’s ball rolling and realized that this is too much, it is now too late. It is much harder to back out at this point.
• Talk to the family, explain your reasons why. A family will be much more appreciative to hear that you cannot move forward as the Executor because you will be travelling for the next few years than to have the estate drag on for an unnecessarily long time.
• Are you hesitant of accepting appointment because you don’t know where to start? An executor can hire help for items that they cannot reasonably do themselves. If taxes are not your strong suit you can hire an accountant. Legal issues cause you to run down the street? That is ok, you can hire a lawyer to help. You can even hire our services to assist and train for the job. What you cannot do is let the people who are hired to assist you make the decisions on the estate. That is the Executors duty only, professionals may help and advise but that is where it ends.
The biggest thing to remember is communication, if being an executor for someone is something you really do not want to do, then communicate that while you can. I know I appreciated it when the person I chose told me that it was not something that they felt comfortable doing. I was then able to have much better conversations with my now named executor and feel confident that when the time comes that they are ready and willing to take on the job.