There are reasons and situations where an estate executor removal is possible.
The loss of a loved one can be devastating. The aftermath of grief makes the execution of an estate even more challenging. Sometimes a will or trust is not written well and can cause confusion and ambiguity. Other times an executor may not be doing the job he or she was given to perform. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of dealing with challenging the provisions of an estate you might be asking yourself, can the executor of an estate be removed?
According to an article on Forbes.com by Bernand A. Krooks, “An executor (also called a “personal representative” in some states) is a person named in a will to carry out the wishes of the deceased person. An executor typically offers the will for probate, takes action to protect the assets of the estate, makes distributions of property to beneficiaries and pays the debts and taxes of the estate.” Prior to death a person can write down a plan of how his or her assets should be distributed, and as part of that plan name an executor to make sure that plan is carried out. An executor should be a person that is trustworthy and competent.
There are several reasons for needing to remove an executor. Removing an executor can be a lengthy, costly, and emotionally taxing process. It is in your best interest to weigh the merits of your case and see if the benefits of removing an executor are worth the potential costs. The person who appointed the executor can easily change the executor of the estate prior to his or her death. After death, removing the executor can be more challenging. The following article details the reasons you may consider removing an executor, “There are several reasons courts will remove of an executor from an estate. In general, courts will only remove an executor if it can be shown that the executor is incapable of performing the necessary duties, is unsuitable for the position, or has become disqualified since the deceased appointed him or her. It is important to remember that the executor’s duties are to carry out the intent of the will by acting in good faith and within the best interests of the beneficiaries. This means that if an executor does a poor or careless job of managing the estate, this can be grounds for removal.” In summary, the executor you are hoping to remove needs to be incompetent, plainly unsuitable or not able to perform the assigned duties. The court has the authority to remove an executor but you would have to produce convincing evidence to prove the executor is no longer willing, able or qualified to act as required.
When considering removing an executor consult experienced counsel and get a professional opinion as to the best course of action. If an executor is truly doing a disservice to the deceased’s estate and other beneficiaries there can be legitimate grounds for removal. For instance, Executors are often also beneficiaries because both the executor and beneficiaries are people that were close to the deceased loved one. However, an executor may be tempted to make decisions with a personal motive if he or she is also a beneficiary. If an executor is also a beneficiary perhaps he or she is not acting in the best interest of you and the other beneficiaries but is instead making decisions that primarily benefit himself.
If you have carefully weighed your options and decided that it is in your best interest to contest the executor of your loved one’s estate there are certain steps you will need to take. You are strongly advised to seek the help of an experienced attorney. To have an executor removed you will need to go through the courts and this is where having a skilled attorney can really help you through the process. Legalzoom details the following steps in the process of removal. You first want to review the laws of your state with an attorney and make sure that you have sufficient standing to remove the executor. Some states will not allow you to contest the executor unless you are an heir to the estate. In this case it will not be enough if you are a loved one who was not named as a beneficiary, even if you believe the executor is not doing a good job. Next, you will want to examine the character and actions of the executor. With the guidance of your attorney it may be possible to challenge the executor based on things such as conflict of interest, moral corruptness, or major infractions. It is important to remember that you will probably not win your motion if the executor’s transgressions are minor. You and your attorney will need to prove major errors or a definitive inability of the executor to perform the job. If you have standing you will need to file an objection with the court. Prepare your case and gather as many facts in your favor as possible. Concrete evidence of ineptitude or inappropriate handling of the estate will strengthen your case. You will need a strong and persuasive argument. After you file an objection and present your evidence to the court, it will be up to the judge to determine whether or not the executor is fit to continue.
Once an executor is removed, the court will then have to appoint a new executor. The will or trust may name an alternate executor who would be considered or the court may use state law to determine the person next in line for the job.
Dealing with the death of a loved one is challenging. When you are forced to deal with an executor of the estate that is mismanaging his or her duties it can be especially painful. An executor of an estate can be removed. If this is a circumstance you find yourself in, please get legal assistance to put together a solid case to bring before the court. If such an action is needed, you should use every means necessary to protect the wishes and estate of your loved one.