Does every executor named on a will need to apply for probate?

21st FEBRUARY 2021

Executors are responsible for administering someone’s estate after they die. There is no limit to how many executors you can appoint when you write a will and people are often encouraged to appoint more than one in case one of the named executors is unable or unwilling to undertake the responsibility.

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The maximum number of executors that can apply for a grant of probate to begin administering the estate is four. If a will names more than four executors, they will need to decide amongst themselves which of them should be responsible for probate.

It is generally recommended that more than one person applies for probate if there is more than one executor named. This is because there is often potential for disagreement when it comes to administering an estate, and having multiple executors involved could ensure that the process is fair.

However, you are not obliged to take on the role of executor if you are unable or unwilling to do so. There are several options available to you if you wish to hand the role over to the other named executors and play no part yourself.


By taking out a formal Deed of Renunciation, you can resign as executor and renounce your right to apply for probate. This will only be possible if you have not yet started the probate process and have had no part in administering the estate thus far. If you have helped administer the estate or have received any of the assets of the estate, you cannot renounce your role as executor.

Renunciations are final and can only be retracted or withdrawn with the consent of a District Judge or Probate Registrar. For this reason, you must be absolutely certain that you want no part in the probate process before you do this. You must also remember that no one can force you into renouncing your role as executor.

Power Reserved

If you do not wish to act as executor for practical reasons, you can have power reserved to you. You will be served with a notice of Power Reserved from the acting executors. This means that the grant of probate will bear the name of the acting executors only, but it will note that power has been reserved to you as an appointed executor who is not named on the grant. This is the best option for anyone who cannot take on the responsibility of acting as executor because they live in an inconvenient location, for example. If you have power reserved to you, then you can choose to become involved in the estate administration alongside the other executors if it suits you at a later date.

For free initial advice call our advisors or request a callback and we will contact you.