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Can loved ones challenge the executor of an estate?

Naming the executor of an estate, or personal representative, is not a decision people should make lightly. This role comes with considerable responsibility and legal obligations, and it is not unusual for this person to be at odds with the other people affected by an estate plan.

Choosing someone who is not a good fit for the position can lead to unfortunate fights that make an already difficult situation even worse. Further, it could lead to legal action to seek the removal of the executor of an estate, especially under the following circumstances.

  1. The executor is not doing the job. Inaction -- for instance, failing to notify beneficiaries or sell property -- can drag out the administration of an estate. Parties affected by these delays might argue for the removal of the personal representative. Further, Florida statutes define the duties and responsibilities of an administrator. If that person is not complying with these obligations, he or she may face removal.
  2. The executor is taking advantage of his or her role. If a representative is acting in his or her own best interests instead of complying with the decedent's wishes, he or she can face removal. This might include spending money improperly or distributing assets in ways other than what the decedent wanted.
  3. The executor cannot do the job. A person who cannot perform the duties of an executor can be removed; he or she might also choose to resign. If a named party cannot do the job because he or she is unwell, unavailable or unwilling to serve as the executor, then another representative will be selected.

To avoid the confusion, frustration and contention that often accompanies removal of an executor, you should think carefully about whom you name to this position in your estate plan. It would also be prudent to discuss your decision with that person and make sure he or she is prepared and willing to take it on. Taking these steps in advance can help you avoid situations that place added strain and anguish on loved ones.

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Peter J. Snyder, P.A.

Peter J. Snyder, P.A. 21301 Powerline Rd #106 Boca Raton, FL 33433 Phone: 561-544-7324 Fax: 561-367-7322 Boca Raton Law Office Map

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