Executors owe fiduciary duties to a decedent's estate, the decedent's creditors and the decedent's heirs. An executor (also known as a personal representative) must distribute assets and pay off debts in a timely manner. Embezzling funds or mismanaging an estate can have serious consequences. If you suspect that an appointed estate executor is unfit to act in that capacity, you may petition the probate court to remove the appointment and choose a new personal representative for the estate.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Possess standing to bring the petition. According to Legal Match, you must be "interested" in the estate to challenge an executor's appointment. This means that you are either a creditor of the decedent, an heir of the decedent or someone who would take under the decedent's will.
Draft the petition. In the petition, state how you are interested in the estate. Provide basic information about the decedent (such as name, address and date of death). State who the current executor is and list the reasons why the executor should be removed. Ask the court to appoint a new executor, listing the name of the person you want to fill the position.
File the petition with the court clerk in the probate court where the decedent's estate is being administered. Deliver copies of the petition to the other heirs and creditors of the estate and to the current executor.
Argue to the court why the executor should be removed. Once you file your petition, the court will schedule a hearing to resolve the matter. At the hearing, present evidence proving your claim and ask the court to remove the executor.
Tips and warnings
- Note that some courts have forms you can fill out to challenge an appointment of an executor. Ask the court clerk for available forms if you do not want to draft your own petition or if you feel uncomfortable doing so.
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