If the executor of a Will is unable to fulfil their duties after the person has died, they are sometimes forced to renounce their responsibility by signing a “deed of renunciation” which will usually have been drafted by their probate professional and filed with the Probate Office.
This is a process which can often delay probate. If there are other named executors, they can continue with the probate process. However, if the person who signed the deed of renunciation was the sole or last executor, a beneficiary will then need to administer the estate if a Will is in existence.
If no Will was ever written, the rules of intestacy determine who shall act as administrator, with the responsibilities of administering the Estate being passed along the line of beneficiaries until one accepts.
A word of caution here however – if the existing executor has already taken part in any aspect of the probate process, they cannot simply decide to then give up their duties and will not be permitted to renounce.
“Power reserved” can only take place if a Will has been written and is often used if one of the executors lives overseas or a considerable distance away and cannot play a principal role in the administration of the Estate. Instead, other executors will take over the main aspects of the administration, with opportunity for the other person to step in at a later date if necessary.