How to remove an executor of a will

You must have clear and compelling reasons for wishing to remove an executor, after all it was the deceased’s wishes that they act. As a result you cannot simply apply to the court to remove an executor because you do not get along with them. The Courts place great weight on the deceased’s wishes and do not remove executors lightly.

Considering the above it should not come as a surprise to find that there are only limited circumstances in which you can make an application to the Court to remove an executor and appoint someone else. These are limited to circumstances where an executor refuses to act or is not performing their duties correctly.

Where an executor is appointed by a Will they are able to renounce the position before they have accepted it. However once accepted an order of the Court will be required if they are to be removed.

If a beneficiary believes that an estate is not being properly administered, then it is possible for them to apply to the court to substitute or remove an executor. As a general rule Courts will only remove an executor if there is evidence of the following:

  • The executor has been disqualified since the deceased appointed them, ie has been convicted of a crime and sent to prison.
  • The executor is incapable of performing their duties, eg has a mental or physical disability, whether permanent or temporary, which is preventing the executor from performing his/her duties.
  • The executor is unsuitable for the position for example when there is serious misconduct or a conflict of interest. Generally speaking, this could involve stealing from the estate or failing to comply with a Court order.

Steps to take

Court proceedings should always be a last resort. As such, if you are concerned that an executor is not acting in accordance with their responsibilities in the first instance you should write to them asking them to explain their actions.

If you are not satisfied with the response, you can make an application to court to remove the executor.

If you are unhappy with the way an estate is being administrated please contact one of our team and we will be happy to talk you through your options. Please note in cases where you are considering removing an executor it is vital that you obtain legal advice as early as possible.

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