Can you remove an executor?

Executor

NOUN

law

a person or institution appointed by a testator to carry out the terms of their will.

In accepting the position of Executor, you are doing so on the understanding that you have a legal duty to administer the estate of the deceased. This includes tasks such as: making sure assets are identified and called in, that all debts owing are paid, that any taxes are declared and paid and that all assets are distributed in accordance with the terms of the deceased’s Will.

In parallel to this, it is the right of the beneficiaries to ensure that the estate is being properly administered and as a result of this they can move to have an executor removed.

How can an executor fail in their duty?

There are two ways that an executor can be seen to be failing in their duty:

  1. By refusing to act – not taking steps to apply for probate, carry out the tasks mentioned above or leaving the estate in a state of limbo
  2. By improperly administering the estate – due to a lack of capacity, serious misconduct (such as theft) or failing to progress with administering the estate

What can a beneficiary do in these cases?

The first step in any situation such as this would be to try to talk to and resolve the situation with the executor in an informal fashion.

If an executor has refused to act then you can apply to the court for them to issue a citation to the executor – this orders the executor to either accept the grant of probate and act immediately or refuse the position and step aside.

If this has not worked then you can use the court system to remove the executor but to do this you need to prove that there are compelling reasons for removal (those listed in point 2 above), this is not an easy process which is why informal discussions are encouraged as a first step.

Who replaces the removed executor?

If there were joint or multiple executors on a Will then they will step into the role if someone is removed. However, if this is not the case then the courts will appoint a replacement – usually a professional (e.g solicitor) and from there the probate process and execution of the estate should continue.

If you want to talk about your Will or any other aspect of your estate please contact me for a free, no obligation chat on amanda@alhlegal-willwriters.co.uk or 0115 878 0417