Ancillary Probate Proceedings
If the will includes property located in states other than the decedent's state of residence, the executor may need to file for probate proceedings in each jurisdiction where the decedent owned property. This is known as ancillary probate. This is most commonly used when the decedent owned real property in another state, but it can also apply to personal property as well.
Reason for Removal
If the executor of the will fails to file for ancillary probate proceedings that need to occur before the estate property subject to the ancillary probate can be distributed, you can petition the probate court to remove the executor. However, you must be able to show that the ancillary probate is, in fact, necessary; the failure of the executor to file the will in the other state’s probate court is unnecessarily delaying the distribution of estate property; and the executor’s failure to file for ancillary probate is due to his incompetency, lack of attention or overall incapability to perform the necessary duties of an executor. If allowing the executor to continue administering the estate isn’t in the best interest of the estate, courts will remove the executor.
Procedure for Removal
When attempting to remove an executor, there are certain procedures that courts require. To initiate the removal process, you must file a petition or similar document with the probate court that outlines the reasons for removing the executor, such as his failure to file for ancillary probate in another state. Soon after filing the petition, the court will schedule a hearing where you, and possibly other beneficiaries, can present evidence that supports removal. As the petitioner, it’s your responsibility to provide notice of the petition’s filing to the executor and to other beneficiaries of the will.
Replacing the Executor
A necessary consequence of removing an executor is finding a replacement to finish administering the estate and file for ancillary probate. In some jurisdictions, such as Washington, the state courts will allow the person serving as co-executor to finish administering the estate. However, when a co-executor doesn’t exist, the court will appoint a successor who is named in the decedent’s will. If the will is silent on this matter, the court has the authority to appoint an executor.