When a loved passes, many issues arise regarding assets IE: succession and the distribution of acquired wealth. This includes all personal property, real estate and in many cases, a business. Usually a trusted family member was assigned the task as “executor” of a Will. However, what happens if that person is mishandeling the process through negligence, incompetence or for personal gain. Today our guest contributor; Spencer Lauterbach, Esq, addresses the problem and the solution. Take this advice when planning your business succession plan you put in place
Can I Remove an Irresponsible Executor?
By Spencer Lauterbach, Esq.
If a loved one has recently passed away and you believe his or her executor is mismanaging the deceased’s assets in some way, you may wish to have him or her removed from the position. If you are looking to remove an executor, here are some of the questions you may have:
What does an executor do?
Executors bear a lot of responsibility. First, they will open probate and identify the deceased’s assets. An executor will then notify all beneficiaries, pay off the deceased’s remaining debts, distribute assets amongst heirs, and finally close out the estate. Executors are essentially responsible for ensuring the administration process goes swiftly, smoothly, and according to plan.
What is a valid reason to remove an executor from the position?
* He or she is ineligible for any reason
* He or she is incompetent or has become incapacitated
* He or she is unqualified
* He or she is purposefully or negligently mismanaging the estate
How can an executor behave irresponsibly?
There are several ways in which an executor can either behave negligently or break the law. Executors must obey the following rules:
* Never sign a will on behalf of the deceased
* Never change provisions in a will
* Never carry out a will before its creator is deceased
* Never deter, coerce, or prevent beneficiaries from contesting a will
* Never sell the deceased’s assets for less than fair market value without the beneficiaries’ consent
How can I remove an executor?
Fortunately, those who believe an executor is mismanaging assets have legal options to get the irresponsible executor removed. Rather obviously, talking is a solid first option. You should not have to get involved in a nasty legal situation with a relative if you can simply voice your concerns and move on. However, if you have already tried, or are unable to communicate with this person for any reason, you may petition the court to remove the executor. Once you do, you and the current executor will attend a hearing, where a courtroom will listen to both sides of the story. From here, the court will decide whether to remove the current executor and appoint a new one.
Additionally, you may file a civil lawsuit against the executor as well, especially if you can prove he or she acted maliciously or dishonestly when carrying out his or her duties as executor. If you have suffered significant damages and can prove it was because of an irresponsible executor, there is a very good chance you can recover some of those damages through a lawsuit.
About the author:
Spencer Lauterbach, Esq.
The Lauterbach Law Firm is proud to serve clients throughout Rockland County who are faced with legal matters related to estate planning, real estate, foreclosure defense, landlord-tenant law, business law, and criminal defense. If you require the services of an experienced team of attorneys, contact The Lauterbach Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.