If you feel the person who’s executing a loved one’s estate is not doing their job correctly, you may consider removing them. It is not something you can do on a whim. However wrong a choice they might seem to you, your family member chose them for a reason. If you wish to remove them from the role, you will need specific grounds and a court’s approval.
What is a breach of fiduciary duty?
When someone takes on the role of executor, they agree to act in the best interest of the estate and the beneficiaries. Failing to do so could constitute a breach. There are three vital elements you need to prove a breach of fiduciary duty:
- The person had a fiduciary duty: This is implicit when someone agrees to act as an estate’s executor.
- There was a breach: If an executor selling off assets at a below-market rate or paying creditors that they should not be, it may be a breach of duty. Fraud or self-dealing would also be valid reasons to seek their removal. They also have a duty to keep you and the other beneficiaries informed of progress.
- The breach harms you: For there to be a breach, there needs to be damage done. Delaying beneficiaries’ inheritance or reducing the amount they receive might be considered harmful.
Think carefully before taking legal action to remove an executor. Proving a breach of fiduciary duty can be challenging. It could delay the distribution of the estate even more and cost you money. If speed or competence is the issue rather than honesty, arrange a meeting with the executor and talk over your concerns. If that doesn’t work, legal action may be necessary.