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What are reasons that the executor of an estate can be removed?

An executor is someone who the testator (the person drafting a will) appoints to pay their final debts, preserve the value of their assets and to distribute those assets upon their death. Estate planning attorneys generally advise their clients to pick someone who is both trustworthy and responsible for this role. When the executor fails to do what they're supposed to, their beneficiaries may ask a judge to have them removed from their role.

Individuals must be "of standing" (someone with a vested interest in the matter) in order to be eligible to petition a probate judge for the removal of an executor in the case. A beneficiary or other individual related by blood or marriage to the testator may fit this bill. The estate's creditors may also fit that description.

Those wishing to have the executor removed must have a valid reason for asking. In most jurisdictions, proof of the executor's gross mismanagement of estate assets, misconduct, incompetence or a conflict of interest may be enough to justify why they should be removed from their role. Someone who is convicted of a felony may also be considered inappropriate as an executor. It's not considered to be a conflict of interest, however, if the executor also happens to be a beneficiary of the estate -- provided that they administer the estate in a trustworthy and financially prudent way.

All beneficiaries must be notified when someone files a petition to have the estate's executor removed from their role so that they can attend any hearings on the matter. If enough evidence of impropriety is provided, then the judge will excuse the executor from handling the estate.

They will look to see who's listed as the alternate executor when they do so. If the testator didn't list anyone else to assume this role, then the judge will hold a hearing to appoint a new executor in alignment with Ohio law.

The role of executor of another person's estate is a huge responsibility. If someone isn't fulfilling the role properly, it may be time to ask the court to name a different executor.

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