When an individual drafts a will, called a testator, they appoint an executor. The job of the executor is to follow the instructions in the will, take care of the estate’s assets, pay off any debts, handle taxes and give the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. If the executor fails to do these jobs properly, the court can remove them from managing the estate.
Grounds for removal of an executor
When a beneficiary, co-executor or any interested party suspects the executor is not adequately fulfilling their duties, they can seek the help of the court to remove the executor. They can do so based on the following reasons:
- Not doing what’s best for beneficiaries: The executor is not acting in the best interests of the beneficiaries according to the will. They might be favoring one person over others or using the will’s assets in a way they shouldn’t.
- Not managing assets well: The executor fails to manage the estate’s assets according to the will. They might be selling property for less than they’re worth, neglecting physical assets or making bad decisions using the estate’s money.
- Unnecessary delays: The executor takes longer than necessary to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. They might be procrastinating, being inefficient or neglecting their duties.
- Lack of communication: The executor isn’t updating beneficiaries on what’s happening with the will and its assets. Beneficiaries have a right to know what’s happening with the estate and the executor should give answers to their questions and concerns.
- Conflict of interest: The executor makes decisions for their personal gain, which goes against the will’s instructions. For example, if the executor owns a business and uses estate funds to help that business, that’s a conflict of interest.
- Can’t do the job or acting inappropriately: The executor can’t do their job because of a physical or mental illness or they’re behaving inappropriately. This could be them acting rudely, using abusive language or making decisions based on personal feelings rather than what’s best for the estate and its beneficiaries.
Executors must manage the estate of the deceased based on the will’s instructions. They must also be honest and fair and always act in the best interests of those under the estate. If they don’t, interested parties can ask the court to remove them from their role. Those seeking guidance during such situations should seek the help of a legal professional.