Can the court remove a personal representative?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2022 | Probate And Estate Administration |

When creating their estate plans, people often name others to serve as their personal representatives or estate executors. Some choose family members, while others name friends, members of their religious communities or other trusted connections. In their capacity as personal representatives, those named will handle their loved one’s final affairs, including paying off any outstanding debts and passing on assets to the intended beneficiaries.

If unfit to perform their responsibilities as personal representatives of loved ones’ estates, the court may act to put the obligation into the hands of someone else.

Causes for removal

According to state law, the court may remove personal representatives under certain circumstances. The grounds for which the court will take such action include the following:

  • Physical or mental incapacity on the part of the representative
  • Removal from or no longer maintaining residence in the state by the representative without appropriate arrangements
  • Waste or mismanagement of the estate
  • Failure to perform legally prescribed duties

The court also has authority to relieve personal representatives of their duties if law enforcement charges them with homicide, other than by vehicle, or voluntary manslaughter.

Process for removal

The court initiates some personal representative removals. Others result from petitions to the court by interested parties. For example, a beneficiary or creditor with concerns over how the representative manages the estate may ask the court to remove the executor.

Few when creating their estate plans foresee a situation in which the person who they name to handle their affairs cannot fulfill that responsibility. Due to ranging circumstances, however, such circumstances sometimes happen. Therefore, people may benefit from naming an alternative representative in their estate plans to step in should their initial choices not have the ability to uphold their duties.