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.


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or homicide, except homicide by vehicle, she can be removed, provided that the charges have not been dismissed, withdrawn or concluded by a not guilty verdict.

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New York Estate Law When the Executor Dies

New York, like all other states, recognizes a written will as the proper method for making your wishes known as to the distribution of your assets when you die. The executor is the person named in the will to see that the terms of the will are carried out. If an executor dies before she has completed her duties, the court must appoint a new executor.

Maine Statutes for Executors of Wills

In Maine, the executor of a will is referred to as a personal representative. The statutes regarding the duties of the personal representative are found under "Probate of Wills and Administration," in Maine's Revised Statutes. A personal representative may be a relative or friend of the decedent or an attorney or financial institution.

When to Notify the Executor of a Will

Called a personal representative in some states, the executor named in a will assumes responsibility for administering the decedent's estate after formal appointment by the probate court. The executor should be notified as soon as possible after the death of the decedent. The role of executor entails great responsibility, as this person is entrusted with paying the decedent's debts and taxes, managing assets and ensuring those assets eventually pass to the rightful beneficiaries.

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