3 Reasons Why an Executor May Resign


Occasionally an individual serving as executor of an estate in North Carolina must resign from their role. The executor must file a formal petition with the clerk of court (as per the North Carolina General Statute § 28A-10-2) stating the reason(s) for resignation.

Many situations could motivate an executor to step down, such as:

  1. Medical reasons. An unforeseen disability, decline in health, or other medical matter could hinder the executor’s ability to administer the estate.
  2. Time commitment. The executor may not have fully comprehended the variable timeline of probate and the dedication required to meeting numerous deadlines, as well as financial preparation and accounting.
  3. Complicated assets. Probate property outside of North Carolina, complex tax issues, or other complications may be too stressful or beyond the scope of the executor’s expertise to manage.
Like most matters related to estates, an executor’s resignation is not an immediate process. Court requirements must be satisfied prior to the resignation, including filing a final accounting, and the court must approve the resignation.  In particular, the court must find that the resignation is in the best interest of the estate. Ideally, the executor should retain a probate lawyer to assist with the process. The clerk of superior court will schedule a hearing, at which the resignation could be approved. The approval might not be immediately effective. The court may issue a conditional approval and require a qualified successor, review and acceptance of accountings, or other matters before officially relieving the executor from their role.
The time at which the executor chooses to resign or otherwise indicate their unwillingness to serve will also affect how they can resign. In some situations, the will’s testator has not died yet and the individual named as executor could ask the testator to modify the document. If the testator has already died, whether the executor has filed probate yet can affect their resignation process. Our probate lawyers in Chapel Hill explain more about timing concerns in this post on refusing to serve as executor in North Carolina.
Fortunately, probate counsel is available to guide executors through concerns noted above or to take over their role entirely under proper circumstances. Retaining a probate attorney’s executor services alleviates the stress of estate administration that surviving family members are often left to manage after a loved one’s death. Choosing an attorney to serve as executor helps ensure a skilled party is overseeing legal concerns.
Remember, an individual named as an executor in a will does not have to accept the role. Resigning from the position may be approved if proper court procedures are followed. Contact our probate lawyers to learn more.
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