How do I remove the executor of my parents’ estate if I am an heir?

On Behalf of | Jul 20, 2023 | Estate Planning |

If one or both of your parents have chosen someone to be executor over their estate, most likely they thought long and hard before they actually chose that person to act as the executor. Not only is it an honor to be chosen as the executor of the estate but the role also comes with a great deal of responsibility and a great deal of work. The executor is tasked with the responsibility to complete his/her duties in a timely and thorough manner.

In addition to the administration of the estate, the executor is also responsible for distributing the assets and property of the estate to the named beneficiaries. If the executor has a clear understanding of his/her responsibilities as executor of the estate and he/she gets the support that he/she needs to complete the responsibilities, he/she can complete his/her work on the estate relatively quickly and the assets of the estate can be distributed in a timely manner as well.

What happens if the executor doesn’t complete his/her responsibilities in a timely manner?

When it comes to the administration of an estate after the estate owners have passed, it is in everyone’s best interests for the matters concerning the estate to be concluded quickly and as free from incident as possible. The responsibility for wrapping things up in a timely manner is on the executor and unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. In many cases, the executor doesn’t conclude the estate’s matters in a timely fashion, which can lead to all sorts of issues.

If the executor becomes derelict in his/her duties, in other words, if he/she either intentionally or unintentionally fails to perform the duties of the executor in a timely manner without a legitimate excuse, someone else who is involved can take action in court to have the executor removed and another executor appointed. Once the person files the action, the executor will receive notice of a meeting with a court officer. If the executor meets the deadlines that the court imposes at that point, he/she will most likely not be removed as executor of the estate. However, if the executor doesn’t respect the deadlines of the court, he/she will most likely be removed.

What is the executor responsible for?

The executor of an estate has several responsibilities, including maintaining accurate records and books regarding the estate’s administration. If the executor does not maintain accurate records, he/she may jeopardize his/her position as executor of that estate. Also, if the court determines that there is money that has been taken by the executor without an accounting of where that money went, the executor may be responsible to pay back that amount.

Another important issue is that the executor must be meticulous about maintaining separate personal and estate accounts. Comingling the two will only lead to trouble and complications. Mixing the two types of accounts is a violation of the fiduciary duties of the executor to the beneficiaries and if the issue is not corrected quickly, it is likely that the executor may be removed from the position of executor.

Additionally, there are several other serious actions that can cause the executor to be removed, including evidence that the executor used estate assets for his/her own purposes and not for the beneficiaries in any way. Another reason to possibly remove the executor is if he/she demonstrates bias against any of the beneficiaries or if the executor has committed a crime that is not related to the estate.

Having the proper estate plan in place

Having an estate plan, with all of the important elements that will ensure that your loved one’s legacy is protected and passed down is extremely important. However, if there is a serious issue with the person who was chosen to act as the executor, you can take action to fix the situation. The support and expertise of estate planning attorney can make a great deal of difference to your case. Your attorney can walk you through the process, one step at a time, and you can gain an understanding of what you need to do next.