Disputes with Executors – can you remove or replace a problem Executor?

20 October, 2017

We are commonly asked to advise beneficiaries on disputes with Executors and Administrators. One of the key issues where there has been a breakdown is whether they can be removed.

If the named Executor has failed to apply for probate following a written request for them to do so, the next of kin or a beneficiary can apply to court for an order appointing someone else to apply for probate and administer the estate.

It is more difficult to remove an Executor or Administrator once appointed. The court will only do so if it is established that removal is in the interest of the beneficiaries and furthers the administration of the estate. Examples of where the court can order this are where the executor is:

  • unsuitable (e.g. failing to keep accounting records or mismanaging the estate) and failing to properly fulfil their duties;
  • incapable due to a mental or physical disability preventing them from carrying out their duties; or
  • disqualified due to being convicted of a crime and imprisoned.

The court can remove an executor if there has been an irretrievable breakdown with the beneficiaries, as this can make them unsuitable. In those cases, a practical approach is to propose the appointment of an independent administrator, which is a solution the court may impose if not agreed.

If you are concerned an executor is not appropriately carrying out their duties please contact Philip Youdan at philip.youdan@crippspg.co.uk.

For further information about Will disputes and disputes involving trusts and estates please click here to view our Guide to Will Trust and Estate Disputes.. We can also discuss the possible options for funding your claim and may, in appropriate cases, be able to offer a “no win, no fee” arrangement or a fixed fee.