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Where a solicitor has been appointed as executor, can the beneficiaries ask him to step down?

If a solicitor or other professional, such as a bank has been appointed as co-executor, he or she will be able to charge for their time spent on administering the estate, provided that there is a charging clause in the will. This can be quite expensive, so where the beneficiaries are all in agreement and the co-executor is happy to administer the estate, the co-executor and the beneficiaries would usually ask the solicitor to renounce his executorship or reserve his power.

Will he step down?

In most cases there should be no question that the professional will step down.  In the case of a solicitor he should do so if there are no complex matters and there was no specific reason given by the testator for the solicitor to be appointed.  These may range from a disabled beneficiary or a concern about the overbearing nature of a particular beneficiary.

What is the difference between renouncing executorship and having power reserved?

If the executor renounces his executorship, then he removes himself completely.  If the professional executor agrees to having power reserved to himself, then as the “non-proving executor”, he does not need to sign any documents relating to the estate administration, but if anything happens to the co-executor then the professional executor with power reserved will step into the breach.

What if professional executor refuses to step down?

If it is a solicitor, you could complain to Legal Ombudsman, or go to court to have the appointment removed. This is obviously very expensive.

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