Reasons to Remove an Executor in PA

By Valerie Stevens

An executor is the person named in a will to carry out a person's wishes after death. As the name suggests, the executor facilitates the execution of the deceased person's will. The role of the executor is the same as the role of administrator, but an administrator must be appointed in cases in which the deceased person failed to name an administrator, or if the named administrator declines to fulfill the position. Both are referred to as a "personal representative" in Pennsylvania law.

Procedure

The Pennsylvania court can remove an executor on its own motion, or an interested person can petition the court for removal. Creditors or beneficiaries of the will are generally "interested persons." Usually the executor will be given a chance to appear before the court and explain why she should not be removed. However, if the court is convinced there is an immediate danger to the interests of the deceased’s creditors or beneficiaries, the court can remove the executor without a hearing. The court has wide discretion to remove an executor and can do so for any reason that jeopardizes the interests of the estate.

Mistakes or Dishonesty

The grounds for removal include mistakes or wrongdoing on the part of the executor. If the executor is mismanaging or wasting the assets of the estate, or if the estate is becoming insolvent through actions of the executor, the executor can be removed. The executor can also be removed if she fails to perform any of the requisite duties, such as notifying the beneficiaries.

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Illness or Moving

Inability to carry out the duties of the job can also result in an executor being removed. The job can be time-consuming and energy-draining, and an executor can become overwhelmed. If the executor becomes too sick to do the job and is likely to remain so, she can be removed. Moving out of Pennsylvania also can lead to removal.

Criminal Activity

Another reason an executor might be removed is alleged criminal activity. If she has been charged with voluntary manslaughter or homicide, except homicide by vehicle, she can be removed, provided that the charges have not been dismissed, withdrawn or concluded by a not guilty verdict.

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References

Related articles

Grounds for Removing an Executor in Texas

Under Texas law, you can be removed as the executor of an estate for a number of reasons, although your conduct must be quite egregious for removal. Even if you have an apparent conflict of interest between your duties as an executor and rights as a beneficiary, if designated as one in the will, a Texas court may be reluctant to remove you unless you have clearly failed to carry out your fiduciary duties of honesty and good faith toward both the creditors and beneficiaries of the estate.

Failure to Execute Fiduciary Responsibilities as an Executor of a Will

An executor is not guilty of misconduct if he does not get along with the will’s beneficiaries or puts the estate’s liquid assets into a savings account rather than an investment account. Generally, he must violate some law, misappropriate or fail to protect the estate’s assets, or use the assets for his own financial gain. But if he does any of these things, the beneficiaries have legal recourse.

Does the Executor Have Authority Over the Will?

An executor is the person named in a will to administer the estate of the person who died. The executor may be a bank or trust company instead of an individual. While state law varies as to the exact duties of an executor, in general all executors must gather the estate's assets, pay creditors, then distribute remaining estate assets in accordance with the will's directives, without any discretion to deviate from the will except in limited circumstances.

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