An executor is the person named in a will to carry out a person's wishes after death. As the name suggests, the executor facilitates the execution of the deceased person's will. The role of the executor is the same as the role of administrator, but an administrator must be appointed in cases in which the deceased person failed to name an administrator, or if the named administrator declines to fulfill the position. Both are referred to as a "personal representative" in Pennsylvania law.
The Pennsylvania court can remove an executor on its own motion, or an interested person can petition the court for removal. Creditors or beneficiaries of the will are generally "interested persons." Usually the executor will be given a chance to appear before the court and explain why she should not be removed. However, if the court is convinced there is an immediate danger to the interests of the deceased’s creditors or beneficiaries, the court can remove the executor without a hearing. The court has wide discretion to remove an executor and can do so for any reason that jeopardizes the interests of the estate.
Mistakes or Dishonesty
The grounds for removal include mistakes or wrongdoing on the part of the executor. If the executor is mismanaging or wasting the assets of the estate, or if the estate is becoming insolvent through actions of the executor, the executor can be removed. The executor can also be removed if she fails to perform any of the requisite duties, such as notifying the beneficiaries.
Illness or Moving
Inability to carry out the duties of the job can also result in an executor being removed. The job can be time-consuming and energy-draining, and an executor can become overwhelmed. If the executor becomes too sick to do the job and is likely to remain so, she can be removed. Moving out of Pennsylvania also can lead to removal.
Another reason an executor might be removed is alleged criminal activity. If she has been charged with voluntary manslaughter or homicide, except homicide by vehicle, she can be removed, provided that the charges have not been dismissed, withdrawn or concluded by a not guilty verdict.
Valerie Stevens is a professional writer and editor based in the Carolinas. She was an editor at daily newspapers for 20 years and now works as a paralegal. She has edited several books and her work has been published in The Knoxville News-Sentinel, The Springfield Daily News, The Georgetown Times and Natural Awakenings magazine. Stevens holds degrees in journalism and paralegal studies.