How to Contest the Handling of an Estate in North Carolina

By Beverly Bird

Probate is often a difficult and contentious process. Emotions can run high, with grief at the forefront. Under the circumstances, it can be easy enough to come to the conclusion that the executor of your loved one’s estate is mishandling it. You have recourse if you’re correct: North Carolina law allows you to ask that the executor of the estate be removed from office.

Step 1

Gather hard proof of what you think the executor has done wrong. You’ll need legally acceptable grounds for your request; you can’t just complain that the executor is taking too much time or not keeping you informed. She must have mismanaged estate funds, stolen from the estate, or handled the deceased’s assets in such a way that it resulted in personal gain. Having a private financial interest in the estate can disqualify her. For example, she might be removed if she co-owned property with the deceased and is resisting its sale because she doesn’t want to lose money in the current economy. The court won’t take your word that she’s done something wrong; you’ll need to establish that your grounds occurred and prove it with documented evidence.

Step 2

File a verified petition for the executor’s removal with the clerk of the Superior Court. This step might be a bit of a challenge because forms for such documents are not readily available on the Internet, but you can stop by the courthouse and ask the staff for guidance – just don’t be surprised if you’re referred to an attorney. The process of presenting your complaint in the proper written form and meeting your burden of proof can be difficult. You must have standing to file the petition, meaning that you must be a beneficiary or be personally affected in some way by the mishandling of the estate.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 3

Attend a hearing before the clerk of the court. The clerk will schedule the date and time after you file the petition and will alert other interested parties that there will be a hearing to investigate your allegations. If your proof is sufficient, the clerk can revoke the executor’s authority to act on behalf of the estate – it’s not necessary to involve a judge in North Carolina, and a full-blown trial isn’t required.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
What Can Be Done to Force an Executor to Finalize an Estate?
 

References

Related articles

How to Remove an Executor From a Will in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

A Personal Representative, or Executor, is appointed by the court in a probate proceeding to protect the assets of the estate and to transact business on behalf of the estate during the probate process. The Executor is also responsible for liquidating assets to satisfy creditors of the estate, and to make inheritance distributions from the estate to the heirs and beneficiaries. But what if the Executor makes a decision that you, as an heir or beneficiary, think jeopardizes your inheritance, or that of another heir or beneficiary of the estate? In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code, Article III Section 3-611, provides the steps necessary to remove a personal representative in just such a situation.

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 therefore cannot fire her. The testator selects the executor to administer his estate, and after the testator's death, only a probate judge can disqualify an executor upon proof of incompetence or serious infraction. Any heir can object to the executor's capacity or actions by filing a timely challenge, but must prove these allegations at trial.

How to Settle an Estate After a Death Without a Lawyer

When it's time, a probate court will handle your estate. State law and court rules govern the process, so they can vary a little by jurisdiction. Having a legal representative might be helpful for an executor, but it's not necessary. If you feel strongly that your executor should have legal guidance, you can include this requirement in your will.

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

Related articles

How Do I Probate a Will?

Probate is the legal term for the process of ensuring the validity of a will and granting authority to the person named ...

How to File a Complaint on an Executor's Integrity

The executor of an estate occupies a position of trust; carrying out the testator's last wishes requires not only the ...

What Happens When the Executor of the Will Steals the Money?

Estate beneficiaries must move quickly if the estate executor is stealing. State laws set a window during which heirs ...

Removal of an Executor Due to Hostility Toward Heirs

It’s usually rather difficult to have the executor of a will removed. The decedent nominated him in his will to handle ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED