Published 03 Apr 2018
Author: David Cossalter
Many people take great care in choosing the executors of their estate because the appointed individuals are tasked with a number of crucial duties.
Executors pay off your debts and liabilities, make funeral arrangements and distribute assets to the beneficiaries set out in your will, among other obligations.
But what are your options if you believe an executor isn't fulfilling their duties appropriately?
Talk to the executors directly
Removing an executor from an estate can be difficult, so your first step should be discussing your concerns with them directly to see whether you can clear up any disagreements without going the legal route.
However, you may still want to get advice from a contesting wills lawyer beforehand, as many executors will have legal representation themselves.
Your lawyer will be able to guide you on the best approach to take if you have grievances with an executor. This may include making a formal demand telling the individual to act more promptly in their administration of the estate.
Request a court to remove the executor
If you are still unhappy with the executors actions, you can apply to the Supreme Court for an order to remove or replace them from their position.
Judges are often reluctant to act against a will maker's wishes, so they are likely to give a certain amount of leeway to the executor to rectify the situation before replacing them.
You must usually show the executor is being grossly incompetent or even fraudulent in their actions. For example, an executor taking money from the estate for their own financial gain would give the courts cause to replace them.
What happens when an executor is removed?
Removing an executor means the original grant of probate must be revoked and a new one put in place. A decision over who will replace the individual will also be made.
The courts can select a professional executor to take over or choose an individual that all parties agree upon.
Ultimately, beneficiaries hoping to have an executor removed from an estate should think carefully about their decision. Obtaining a court order can take time and the costs will likely come out of the estate, reducing its overall value.
Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers if you would like to discuss the options available to you when contesting a will.