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Can you remove an executor?

The executor of a will is the person (s) appointed or chosen by the deceased to carry out instructions left in the will, administer the estate and ensure final wishes are respected.

Being an executor is an important role and we advise all our clients making a Will to seek the agreement of the executor before any appointment to help try and avoid any potential difficulties later. 

In the majority of cases, the executor will act in good faith and in the best interests of the beneficiaries however, sadly this is not always the case. 

What happens if you have concerns over the executor and want to remove them?

Reasons to remove an executor

To remove an executor you will need to be able to evidence the reasons why to the Court. 

Generally speaking, this includes: 

  • Incapable of performing their duty because of a physical or mental illness.
  • Unsuitable for the position, perhaps due to a conflict of interest or serious misconduct (stealing from the estate or disobeying a court order).
  • Convicted of a crime and sent to prison after appointment disqualifies the executor.

Courts are unlikely to remove an executor over arguments or the time taken to settle the estate. Bad relations alone will not usually be enough. 

How do you remove an executor?

To start, send a letter to the executor outlining all your concerns and ask them to explain their actions. 

If you are not happy with their response, you can make an application to the Court to remove the executor. 

To do this we recommend you seek legal advice from a specialist. You will need to collate documentation including a Grant of Probate, a witness statement setting out why they should be removed and a witness statement stating that they are not fit to act in this capacity.

How can we help

This can be a complex area of family law and each case is very different.

If you have concerns over the integrity of an executor and want to look at options, our wills and inheritance disputes team can advise you the legal options available to you.

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