When someone nominates you as the Executor of their Last Will and Testament (“Will”), you are not obligated to accept such nomination. In fact, until the Will is probated, you are only a nominated Executor. Your nomination becomes official once the Surrogate’s Court admits the Will to probate and is represented by a piece of paper referred to as “letters testamentary”.
In some cases, you may not want to become the Executor of an estate. For instance, if the liabilities of the estate exceed the value of the estate’s assets, you might reason to the conclusion that the time and effort to properly administer the estate is not something you want to tackle. Another example might be where you are unrelated to the decedent and you have no desire to get involved with the decedent’s family members. There could be various other reasons why you may choose not to accept your appointment.
If you choose not to accept your appointment, you can renounce your appointment by filing certain papers with Surrogate’s Court in conjunction with the papers necessary to commence a probate proceeding. In that case, the successor Executor will usually continue with the probate process.