Can you say no when asked to be an executor or trustee?

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2022 | Probate Litigation |

If a family member or friend has asked you to serve as trustee or executor, carefully consider your answer. The role they are asking you to fill is a serious one, with both legal and moral obligations.

If you do not wish to serve in this capacity you have the right to say no.

Why would you say no?

You should thoughtfully weigh the legal and moral responsibilities inherent in these roles. Some things to think over:

  • These are positions of trust, and carry a fiduciary responsibility. If for any reason you fall short, you could be personally, financially and legally liable.
  • Executors and trustees must be well-organized, scrupulously honest, and able to get along well with all parties.
  • Consider the complexity of the estate or trust in your evaluation, and if you are willing and able to handle it.
  • Be honest with yourself about personal issues, like: Do you live too far away? Will the process be contentious? Will you get paid?

How do you say no?

If, after careful consideration, you believe the role is wrong for you, you have every right to say no. How to do that depends on the timing:

For executors:

  • During planning: graciously decline the offer
  • After death, but before the legal appointment: file a renunciation with the probate court
  • Resignation after acceptance: file a petition of removal with the court

For trustees:

  • During planning: graciously decline the offer
  • After creation but before acceptance: provide written notice to all parties
  • Resignation after acceptance: this is a complicated process that may require an attorney’s help

If someone asks you to fill the role of executor or trustee, carefully weigh the pros and cons; say no if you have any reservations.