Heirs who have become dissatisfied with the way the decedent’s estate is being administered may submit a complaint with the probate court. Complaints range from concerns that the estate is not being administered correctly to complaints that the executor is engaged in unethical behavior. The process of filing a complaint is usually initiated with the ultimate goal of removing the executor from his position.
Evaluate the executor's job performance by looking at the specifications in the will of the decedent. Wills involve the sale of real estate, liquidation of assets and managing bank accounts. The executor is in charge of distributing the assets based on the instructions of the will to the beneficiaries or heirs. Executors must exercise extreme caution and pay attention to detail, as she has a personal responsibility to the heirs of the will.
Document any corrupt or harmful actions that the executor has caused to the estate. Probate courts have the authority to force an executor to be removed from his position. The court may initiate this action on its own, or the heirs can file a petition to remove the executor. Courts remove executors only if complaints show that the executor has acted in bad faith and unethically or is unable to carry out duties required by the executorship.
Request an audit of the estate through the probate court. The audit checks into whether any assets have been used frivolously by the executor. Once the audit determines that the executor has acted corruptly, the court will remove that person from the position of executor.
File for a court proceeding to remove the executor from the estate. The estate audit is used by the heir's attorney to show the grounds for the executor's removal. During this hearing, the attorney for the executor will argue why the executor should remain in charge of the estate, and the attorney for the heir will argue for why the executor should be removed.
Laws and procedures differ between each state; it is important to look into the rules of each court before filing an action.
It is best to retain the help of a probate attorney before attempting to file a complaint to remove an executor.
- Alan S. Fanger; Removing an Executor -- It's a Judgment Call; October 2010
- Commissioner of Accounts for the Circuit Court of Henrico County, Virginia: Duties of the Administrator or Executor
- EstateSettler: What Are the Responsibilities of the Executor?
- FreeAdvice; Can a Beneficiary Compel an Audit of an Estate?; November 2009