Do you think that the Executor of an Estate is doing a bad job? Do you want to remove a Trustee from a Trust? It’s not as easy as you think. Estate management can be riddled with challenges, particularly when conflicts arise between beneficiaries and Executors.  In this video, we’ll discuss some essential points for removing a fiduciary.  

For those who prefer to read this information, you can find the full script below.

To learn more, contact us at 212-709-8112 or or book a consultation here:

Estate matters can often be challenging, and it’s not uncommon to encounter tension between the beneficiaries of the estate and the fiduciaries, be it an Executor or Trustee, who’ve been appointed to manage things. Today, we’re diving into a critical topic – “3 Things to Know if You Want to Remove an Executor.” While it may not be the most exciting subject, it’s vital information for those navigating the sometimes rocky road of estate management. So, let’s get started!

Example of a Bad Fiduciary:
Before we delve into the details, let me share a real-life example. A 2nd wife was appointed as an Executor of her husband’s estate, entrusted with ensuring a fair distribution of assets to the decedent’s children from first marriage. However, she began self-dealing, using estate funds for lavish personal expenses, and making risky investments into her friends’ companies that led to significant losses. The result? The decedent’s children were left with a mere fraction of what was rightfully theirs. It’s a stark reminder of the importance of knowing and exercising your rights timely.

Who can be a Fiduciary:
First, let’s talk about who can be a fiduciary, which includes both an Executor of an Estate or a Trustee. The good news is, it can be just about anyone who’s a person, except for a few exceptions:

  • Infants: Well, we can’t expect a baby to handle this difficult job, can we?
  • Incompetent or incapacitated individuals: If someone can’t make decisions for themselves or manage their own life, they also can’t manage an estate.
  • Non-domiciliary aliens: Unless they’re serving with another co-fiduciary, which means they’re partnered up with someone who is a resident.
  • Felons: We probably don’t want someone with a criminal record handling an estate.
  • Those lacking good qualifications: This includes issues like substance abuse, dishonesty, a lack of intellectual understanding, or even not being able to communicate in English.

When can Someone be Removed:
Now, let’s jump into the second topic – when can someone be removed as a fiduciary? There are several reasons for this, and they include:

  • Waste of assets: If they’re wasting or squandering the estate’s assets, like the wife above, that’s a big problem.
  • Bad management: If they’re just not doing a good job managing things, forgetting to pay bills or not paying taxes.
  • Dishonesty: Lying on the application to obtain the original letters is grounds for removal.
  • Refusal to obey court orders: If the Surrogate court gives them instructions, the Executor needs to follow them.
  • Changing address without notifying the court: This is important for keeping the court informed.
  • Removing estate property from NY State without approval: You can’t just take things out of the state without the court’s okay.
  • Lack of qualifications: This includes issues like substance abuse, a lack of understanding, or just being unfit for the job.

How to Remove a Fiduciary:
So how do you start the process of removing a fiduciary? If you believe that someone needs to be removed, you can’t just snap your fingers. You’ll need to file a petition with the Surrogate court. Now, here’s the catch: the person who wants to remove the fiduciary must bear the burden of proof. That means you need to provide specific evidence why the fiduciary should be removed. It’s not enough to just say you want them out; you’ll need to show the court why it’s necessary.

So, there you have it – the three crucial things you need to know if you want to remove an Executor or a Trustee. It’s not always a straightforward process, but understanding who can be a fiduciary, when they can be removed, and how to start the process can make all the difference. If you want to learn more and have your case evaluated, please call us at Sverdlov Law at 212-709-8112 and we will be happy to assist you.