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Grounds for Removal of an Executor

Posted on Fri Oct 11, 2019, on Estate Litigation

From Our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: “My brother was named the executor for my mother’s estate. He has moved into the house and now refuses to answer my calls. What are the grounds for removal of an executor?”

Grounds for Removal of an Executor

Will Contest Lawyer, Glen Ridenour.

Grounds for Removal of an Executor.

An Executor is a fiduciary who owes the beneficiaries a fiduciary duty. Once appointed executor, only a judge can remove the executor. That is to say; the judge can remove the executor.  But, the judge will only remove executors after receiving evidence proving the executor’s action (or inaction) runs counter to the beneficiaries’ best interests.  Gathering this evidence may require subpoenas and depositions.  That is to say; you have homework. 

Having Standing.

Only interested parties can petition a judge to remove an executor. For example, if your brother’s actions offend your friend, your friend cannot pursue removal.  Even if your friend may be correct and your brother is a terrible executor. But your friend is not a beneficiary. Your brother’s actions do not harm this hypothetical friend.  Therefore, your friend doesn’t have the standing to file the petition.

You, though, have standing. This standing comes from you being a beneficiary of the estate. Further, your brother’s actions harm your interests. 

Reasons for Executor Removal.

Just being upset with the Executor is not enough. Beyond being upset, you must provide the judge a basis for removal. Every case is different, but this is a list of some common reasons for Executor Removal. For example:

  • Friction between Co-Executors.
  • Failure to Comply with Will’s Terms.
  • Non-Cooperation with a Vital Party or a Beneficiary.
  • Neglecting or Mismanaging Estate Assets.
  • Misconduct.
  • Self-Dealing.
  • Abuse of Discretion.
  • Misappropriation of Funds.
  • Hostility Towards Heirs.
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty.
  • The Executor is Insolvent or Otherwise Unfit.
  • The Executor has Become Incapacitated.
  • The Executor’s Failure to Act.
  • Excessive Executor Fees and Expenses.
  • Executor Being under Undue Influence.
  • Conflict of Interest.

Has your executor demonstrated any of these characteristics? If so, we can ask the judge to remove and replace the executor.

How to Remove an Executor.

If an interested party believes that an Executor has committed acts requiring removal, they can hire an Estate Litigation Attorney to petition for that fiduciary’s removal. Also, if the Executor’s wrongful act has damaged the Estate, the Attorney can Petition to force the Executor to file a Formal Account. In this process, the Estate Litigation Lawyer can obtain an order allowing discovery. For example, the judge can allow your lawyer to depose the fiduciary, subpoena evidence, collect records, and interview witnesses.  As a result, you then have the power to obtain evidence proving executor removal is needed.

More Detail.

For more detailed information about Grounds for Removal of an Executor, see my page “Removal of Executors: Everything You Need to Know.” 

In Conclusion: Grounds for Removal of an Executor.

I hope you found helpful this short article about the Grounds for Removal of an Executor. Also, I have included some links for more detailed information. Are you curious about pursuing an executor’s removal?  Contact us. Let our Estate Litigation Lawyers walk you through this confusing process. Furthermore, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. 

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Estate Litigation Attorney, Estate Litigation Lawyer, Executor, Glen Ridenour

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