COVID-19: Although our offices are closed until further notice, our teams are still working and can be contacted by phone, email or live chat. Click here for more information

I’m an executor in a will – do I have to apply for the Grant of Probate?

Executors are the individuals named in a Will to deal with the administration of the estate.  

Executors will apply for a Grant of Probate (if required), collect and/or sell assets, settle any liabilities (debts) and distribute the estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the Will.

You can name as many executors as you wish in your Will but a maximum of four executors can apply to the Probate Registry to prove your Will and be named on the Grant of Probate.

Not all executors named in a Will have to apply for the Grant of Probate. There may be circumstances where it may not be desirable, convenient or practical to have an active role in the administration of the Estate. This could be due to location, a busy schedule or other complications. If an executor chooses not to be involved in the administration of the estate then there are two options available: renunciation or power reserved.

Renunciation: an executor resigns or renounces their right to apply for the Grant of Probate and be involved in the administration of the estate.

For an executor to formally renounce their position as executor and allow another person to obtain a Grant of Probate, they must sign a formal Deed of Renunciation. Once signed and witnessed by an impartial third party, the Deed of Renunciation must be lodged with the Probate Registry.

In order to resign, an executor must not have “intermeddled” in the estate meaning that they have not already been involved in any part of the administration or received any of the estate assets.  

Power Reserved: an executor can also choose to have power reserved to them. This applies when an executor does not wish to assert their right to apply for the Grant at present but does not want to lose all authority in the proceedings and wishes to retain the right to participate in the administration at a later date.

Under these circumstances, the Court requires a Notice of Power Reserved to be served.

Power reserved can be particularly useful when one or more executors do not live in the same country as the deceased and their assets but another executor/executors do. Taking power reserved would allow, for example, executors in England and Wales to apply for a Grant of Probate without having to get a signature on certain documents from the executor living abroad, therefore reducing the time and complication of sending documents back and forth between countries.

If you wish to obtain any further information or guidance on your role as an executor please contact our specialist team on 0113 201 4900 or

Joanne Gibson

Written by

Joanne Gibson

Wills & Probate

Joanne joined our Wills & Probate team in 2016 and is a qualified solicitor. Joanne has practiced as a solicitor in this field since she qualified in 2009 after studying for a Law Degree at the University of Surrey and the Legal Practice Course at the College of Law in Guildford. ...

Back to Blog

Get in

If you would like to speak to a member of our team please complete the following form:

All fields marked with * are mandatory.