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When will a court remove an executor?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2020 | Estate Planning

If you are making your estate plans, you want the executor of your estate to be the best person possible to handle the job. Whoever you appoint will have the responsibility to your heirs to make sure they receive their inheritance. In the event your executor mishandles the duties of the job, your heirs might go to court to have your executor removed. 

While a court will grant an executor the power to handle the affairs of an estate, it does not mean the executor has the authority to do anything. As Smart Asset explains, executors must act in the best interests of the estate and could face removal if they fail in this responsibility. 

When courts remove executors

It is important to know that estate beneficiaries cannot have an executor removed for any reason. While a beneficiary may disagree with what a will states or what an executor does, this is often not enough for a court to accept that an executor has overstepped the bounds of the position. A beneficiary should supply evidence that the executor has mishandled the estate or is incompetent in his or her duty. 

Types of executor misconduct

There are a number of ways an executor may cause harm to an estate. Some executors enrich themselves from the estate or use estate assets to pay personal costs. An executor may steal property from the estate or give it to non-beneficiaries. An incompetent executor may neglect crucial duties like communicating with estate heirs or failing to file the will in probate court. 

After executor removal

If a court agrees than an executor has acted improperly, the court will remove the executor and pick someone as a replacement. Sometimes a will names alternate individuals who may serve as executor if the main choice cannot continue in that capacity. If this is not the case, a court may compose a priority list of persons who can serve as executor. Typically, this list consists of spouses or adult children of the decedent.