Where the Will nominates the executors
There is no obligation to become the executor of an estate if you have been appointed as an executor in a Will. Even if you were the only named executor it is possible to stand down, at which point it will be necessary for someone else to apply to the court as an administrator (see below).
If you agreed to be an executive but no longer wish to take on the role, you can stand down or ‘renounce’ the position. You will need to complete a ‘form of renunciation’ from the Probate Registry.
If you do renounce, renouncement takes effect immediately and doesn’t grant the right to appoint another person in your place. Instead either remaining executors continue, or someone must apply to court to be appointed an administrator.
While it is possible to renounce immediately, if you have already interfered in the estate you are barred from renouncing. If you do, you risk liability arising from improper management of the estate.
On the other hand, if you want to stay as an executor but be less active in the administration of the estate you can have ‘power reserved’ which means that you have chosen not to participate at the time when probate is applied for, but can still choose to act later if a fellow executor becomes incapable of continuing the role or if you have any other concerns about how they are handling the estate. To do this a new grant of probate – often referred to as a ‘double grant’ needs to be obtained.
An estate only needs one administrator from the pool of people who are entitled to act. If there is more than one person who is entitled to apply, then no action is required from anyone who doesn’t want to be involved. E.g. where there are three children who are all entitled to be administrators, if one decides to act there is no need for any of the others to also act.
If multiple people apply for the position, the court will decide who to appoint as the administrator on the basis of the order of priority (see link below for more information).