How to Remove an Executor of a Will

By Teo Spengler

Chosen by the testator -- the person who writes the will -- and nominated in the will itself, an executor administers the will and sees it through the probate process. He gathers and invests assets, handles will contests, pays estate bills and distributes remaining property to beneficiaries. Courts only interfere with the testator's choice of executor in extreme circumstances, such as upon a convincing showing that the executor is incapable of undertaking his duties or that his actions are dishonest or fraudulent.

Chosen by the testator -- the person who writes the will -- and nominated in the will itself, an executor administers the will and sees it through the probate process. He gathers and invests assets, handles will contests, pays estate bills and distributes remaining property to beneficiaries. Courts only interfere with the testator's choice of executor in extreme circumstances, such as upon a convincing showing that the executor is incapable of undertaking his duties or that his actions are dishonest or fraudulent.

Step 1

Consider whether you qualify to bring an objection to the executor. Most states only allow an heir to challenge an executor, and a familial relationship or friendship with the deceased is not enough. If you are not an heir, work with an heir to disqualify the executor. Explain your evidence and convince the heir to file an objection in her name.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 2

Use precision in identifying any allegations of incompetence. Recognize that your poor opinion of the intelligence or character of the executor will not constitute evidence, nor will vague allusions to recreational drug use or similar habits. Courts presume that the executor is of sound mind, capable of rational thinking, and you must overcome this with compelling evidence of a substantial handicap -- mental, physical or emotional -- that makes the executor incapable of serving. Find evidence that the executor served jail time for criminal conduct or is habitually drunk.

Step 3

Look for illegal action if you base your challenge on the executor's behavior. The fact that he is impolite, late or disrespectful is irrelevant. The executor owes you and every other heir an extremely high duty of care, termed a fiduciary duty. This duty is equivalent to the duty the law imposes on a lawyer to her client, and obligates the executor to treat you fairly, not courteously. Investigate the executor's actions to find breach of that duty. Look for self-dealing, embezzlement, forgery, lies to the court or flagrant waste. Find evidence that the executor failed to follow a court order or refused to file an accounting. Leave aside arguments that evidence disagreement between yourself and the executor about appropriate investments or timing.

Step 4

Prepare an objection to the executor and timely file it with the probate court. The time frame depends upon the action you contest and probate rules in your jurisdiction. Alternatively, hire an attorney to represent you. The court schedules a trial date once the clerk receives the objection. Prepare your case, amass evidence and locate witnesses. Appear in court on the trial date and convince the court of your allegations. You may receive a ruling after argument, but more likely you will receive a written decision a few weeks later.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How to Have Someone Removed as the Executor of a Will

References

Related articles

How to Break a Will or Probate

Probate is court-supervised administration of a testator's last will and testament. Upon the death of the person making the will, the executor files the will in probate court and begins to gather and inventory estate assets. Although the executor is usually selected by the testator and named in the will, the court reviews the procedure to assure honesty, accuracy and fairness. The court only approves a valid will, so anyone wishing to "break" a will or probate must allege and prove facts making the will invalid.

Can I Fire the Executor of My Uncle's Will?

Once the probate court has designated an executor to your uncle’s will, it will not likely remove that person from the role. Being rude to you, not acting according to your schedule or making decisions about the estate you don’t agree with are generally not sufficient reasons to remove an executor. However, if you qualify as an interested person, you may be able to have the executor fired if he does something seriously wrong.

How to Overturn a Dissolution of Marriage Final Judgment in Florida

A final judgment in a divorce case is the end result, whether you and your former spouse reached an amicable settlement or had a contested evidentiary hearing. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your divorce in Florida, there are several avenues you may take to overturn the final decree. Overturning an amicable settlement typically requires proof that you were mislead by your spouse. A contested divorce decree can be challenged either by a request for a new hearing or by appeal to a higher court. Deciding the proper course of action requires close examination of the facts and, most likely, the assistance of an experienced attorney.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Fire the Executor of a Will

Although an executor owes a fiduciary duty to the heirs of the will she administers, the heirs do not hire her and ...

How to Challenge an Executor of a Will

If the estate is the boat, the executor is the captain. An executor -- termed personal representative in some states -- ...

How to Contest the Handling of an Estate in North Carolina

Probate is often a difficult and contentious process. Emotions can run high, with grief at the forefront. Under the ...

How to File a Will Contest in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, when the executor of a will files the will with the court and a petition for probate, the court ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED