How to Change the Executor of an Estate After a Death

Written by david carnes
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How to Change the Executor of an Estate After a Death
If the will does not name an executor, the probate court will appoint one. (Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images)

An executor of a will is the person responsible for administering the decedent's estate during the probate process. This position gives the executor broad rights of access to the estate and may result in abuse. To remove an executor against his will, you must petition the probate court and specify appropriate grounds.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Demand a written statement from the executor detailing his disposition of estate assets if you are an heir. Most states require executors to comply with this demand.

  2. 2

    Determine proper grounds for removal. Embezzlement, fraud, mismanagement, neglect, waste and incompetence are all proper grounds for removal. The executor can also be removed if you can prove that the deceased revoked his appointment before he died.

  3. 3

    Gather evidence to prove your grounds for removal. Documentary evidence and witness testimony are particularly convincing forms of evidence. Failure to respond to your demand for a written statement can also be used as evidence for removal.

  4. 4

    Draft a petition for removal of an executor. Some states offer standardised forms for this purpose. You may combine this petition with a petition for the appointment of a new executor. You must state facts sufficient to establish your interest in the case -- that you are an heir named in the will, for example -- and facts that, if proven, would be sufficient to justify removal.

  5. 5

    File your petition with the clerk of the probate court. A filing fee may or may not be required. The court will forward a copy of your petition to the executor and notify you both of the date and time of the removal hearing.

  6. 6

    Attend the removal hearing and present evidence to support your claim. If you are a witness, you may be cross-examined by the executor's attorney. If the executor fails to answer your petition or come to the hearing, he may be removed automatically.

Tips and warnings

  • Name an alternate executor in your will in case your first choice is removed.

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