A personal representative, whether an executor of a will or a trustee of an estate, may be removed for failing to meet the responsibilities of the position. While different states outline varying examples of executor mismanagement, in general an executor can be removed for any of the following reasons:
- Waste, embezzlement, mismanagement or the commission of a fraud on the estate
- Inability to execute the duties of the office or otherwise unqualified for the position
- Wrongful neglect of the estate
- Threat to the estate or interested persons
Who Can Petition for Removal of an Executor?
Any interested person can petition to remove an executor. An interested person is usually any present or future beneficiary or creditor who has a stake in the estate. The petition for removal may be combined with a request for appointing a new, alternative personal representative.
What is Required to Petition for Removal?
The objecting party must present all facts showing "cause" for the executor's removal. If the court determines that there are sufficient grounds then the executor must show why they should not be removed from the position. If the executor fails to attend or answer the court’s request, they will automatically be removed as the representative.
Do I Need an Attorney to Petition for Removal?
Petitioning for removal of an executor will require appearances before the probate court and presentation of evidence sufficient to prove that removal is warranted. Evaluating whether there is sufficient evidence to successfully petition for removal can be complicated and an initial review by an experienced estate lawyer of the circumstances will likely prevent more unnecessary costs.