Source: Safe Passage Urns
Maybe it was a surprise. Maybe circumstances have changed – or your relationships. Perhaps this is not a good time to take on the responsibility – and it is a large responsibility. For whatever reason, serving as executor is something you can’t, or won’t, take on right now. So it’s important to know you have options. However, timing is everthing and according to this article by Safe Passage Urns, earlier is better.
it is a much simpler process to step down as an executor of a will before you are officially appointed executor of the will by probate court, and before you begin fulfilling any duties as an executor.
– Safe Passage Urns article excerpt
Consideration of the timing to the decision is discussed in the article and bears alot of weight on the course of action. The Safe Passage article offers steps that an executor needs to take to remove themselves as the appointed administrator. Certainly this will differ from state to state and and executor should consult with the appropriate county probate official or the probate court to determine what is the process, especially if this takes place after one has been appointed.
This is not to say after appointment you’re stuck. Some estates can get truly hairy and if stepping down is in your best interests, or the best interests of your family, it needs to be discussed and considered as a viable option.