McCullough & McCullough | Lawyers Serving South Texas For Three Generations

Estate Administration
& Probate

Estate Planning

Real Estate Law

Business Law

3 times families can seek to remove an estate’s personal representative

Stepping up to serve as the personal representative of an estate is a major responsibility. Whether someone previously agreed to the position after a direct request by the testator or accepted the responsibility after the death of a loved one, they commit themselves to providing months of minimally-compensated services.

Oftentimes, people take the role of personal representative because no one else wants the responsibility. However, sometimes those with an interest in an estate disprove of the person appointed as representative and attempt to remove them from their role.

There are clear rules about when probate litigation is possible. When can family members and beneficiaries ask the courts to remove a personal representative?

When they breach their fiduciary duty

Some people refer to personal representatives as fiduciaries. That word references the obligation the representative has to act in the best interests of estate beneficiaries rather than for their own financial benefit. If family members or beneficiaries can show that a representative embezzled from the estate, engaged in self-dealing or otherwise put their own interests ahead of the needs of the beneficiaries, such conduct could be reason to remove a representative from their role.

When they make major mistakes

Not everyone can handle the responsibility of managing an estate and the assets that comprise it. In some cases, mistakes in estate administration can reduce the value of the assets that beneficiaries receive. If a representative has sold assets for below market value or has otherwise diminished estate holdings through their own mistakes, that could warrant their removal from their role.

When their health changes

Someone could initially do well in their role as personal representative, only to have some kind of medical emergency. Individuals hospitalized after car crashes or those experiencing cognitive decline as they age could become incapable of fulfilling their duties as the personal representative of an estate. Beneficiaries can seek the removal of those who lack the capacity to fulfill their responsibilities.

Understanding when probate litigation could lead to the removal of a fiduciary can benefit anyone with an interest in an estate. Those who know when to take action can protect their interest in an estate, and those who know what actions could lead to lawsuits can potentially avoid mistakes that could trigger major disputes.

FindLaw Network