What If I Don’t Agree With the Executor of the Estate?
Aug. 26, 2022
When a person dies, another individual will be appointed to serve as the executor of the estate to deal with the deceased person’s property and money. However, the person appointed to that role may not be the best candidate for the job, which is why disputes and disagreements may happen.
If you do not agree with the executor of your loved one’s estate, you may want to explore your options for seeking the removal of the executor. Contact an estate planning attorney to discuss the steps you can take to remove the executor of the estate if there are valid grounds to do so.
With more than 75 years of combined legal experience, our attorneys at Luvara Law Group LLC can advise you on the appropriate course of action in your particular case. From our office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we serve individuals and families throughout the state, including Washington, Uniontown, Greensburg, New Castle, and Waynesburg.
Valid Reasons to Remove an Executor
Even if there are valid grounds to remove an executor, you must have “standing” to petition the court for the removal of the executor. In legalese, “standing” refers to the legal right of a particular individual to initiate legal action.
In cases involving the removal of an executor, people who want to have the executor removed must be any of the following “interested parties”:
Beneficiaries of the estate
The deceased person’s heirs
Once you establish standing, you must show that there are valid reasons to remove the executor of the estate. Valid grounds to remove an executor include but are not limited to:
Incompetence. You can remove the executor of the estate if you can prove that the person appointed to that role is not qualified (or not competent) for the position.
Misconduct or failure to perform duties. The executor of the estate has an obligation to perform specific duties. If an executor fails to carry out their duties or engages in misconduct or mismanagement when doing their job, interested parties can seek their removal.
Conflict of interest. An executor of the estate must handle estate assets appropriately and comply with applicable laws. If an executor has a conflict of interest (e.g., they act in a self-interested way when administering assets), they can be removed.
Just because you do not agree with the executor of the estate does not mean that you can seek their removal. To remove the executor, you must (1) have standing to initiate legal action and (2) establish one of the valid grounds for the removal.
Taking Action if You Don’t Agree With the Executor
When managing estate assets and supervising the distribution of the deceased person’s property, the executor of the estate has a fiduciary duty to act reasonably and in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
It is not uncommon for beneficiaries to disagree with the executor of the estate. If you do not agree with how the executor performs any of their duties or oversees the affairs of your loved one’s estate, you may be able to take legal action. However, the best thing to do before initiating removal proceedings is to communicate with the executor and make your complaints known to them.
If talking to an executor does not solve the problem, you can proceed with a petition to the probate court. When asking the court to remove the executor of the estate, you need to clearly identify the reasons for the removal.
Once the court receives your petition, it will evaluate the situation to determine whether there are valid grounds for the removal. If the executor is removed, the court will appoint a successor executor named in the deceased person’s will. If the decedent did not name a successor, the court would appoint another competent person to serve as the executor.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
If you do not agree with the executor of the estate, consult with an experienced attorney to determine whether you have valid grounds to initiate removal proceedings. Our estate planning attorneys at Luvara Law Group LLC can review the details of your case and advise you of your options. We have an office in Pittsburgh but serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Contact us today to talk about your situation.