An executor is someone named in a will to carry out the decedent’s wishes. An executor’s duties may include:
- Paying any outstanding debts the deceased leaves behind with money from the estate.
- Filing final tax returns.
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries of the will.
An executor’s specific duties depend on how large and complex the decedent’s estate is. They are obligated to carry out or oversee anything that is laid out in the will. An executor may be responsible for obtaining copies of the decedent’s death certificate, locating and filing the will with the probate court, informing any heirs of the open contest period (the timeframe given wherein the validity of a will can be challenged), notifying banks, creditors, and insurance companies of the decedent’s passing, maintaining the estate, and making court appearances on behalf of the decedent.
What Are the Grounds for Removing an Executor?
When an executor fails to perform their duties, commits misconduct involving the estate, or otherwise shows themselves unfit for their role, the court can remove them. This can either be done either with or without notice.
An executor is removed without notice if they cannot be served with a notice. This can be due to their whereabouts being unknown, them eluding service, or them being a non-resident of Texas. If there are sufficient grounds to support a belief that the executor either has or intends to misapply or embezzle all or some of the property committed to their care, they may also be removed with no notice given.
Outside of the situations listed above, a probate court may remove an executor by providing them with a 30-day notice. An executor may be removed because they failed to make an accounting, failed to file the required documentation in a timely manner, became incapacitated or were sentenced to jail, were found guilty of gross misconduct or mismanagement, or were found to have a conflict of interest that would prevent them properly carrying out their duties.
Who Removes an Executor, and How Do They Do It?
While the beneficiaries of a will may request the removal of an executor, only a judge can carry out that wish. The removal process is related to a probate case but is its own separate trial. The plaintiffs must then present evidence that supports their decision.
Once a judge removes an executor, the matter might not be over. An order of removal can be appealed, costing time and money. Because of this, if an executor is suspected of wrongdoing, the best course of action is to collect any and all evidence that may point to that fact.
How Can an Attorney Help With the Removal of an Executor?
If you suspect an executor is mishandling an estate and wish to remove them, your best chance of success comes from hiring an experienced lawyer. Without a lawyer guiding you, you may find it difficult to properly safeguard the estate and hold a negligent executor responsible, especially if you lack hard evidence of wrongdoing.
For the best chance at protecting your future, call an experienced Texas attorney now at 281-771-0560.