In some situations it’s possible for someone to remove an executor of an estate in North Carolina. Removing an executor is difficult, and involves specific laws and procedures. Any time you believe an executor is not performing his or her duties adequately, or needs legal advice about the possibility of removing the executor from an estate, you need to speak to a North Carolina probate attorney. In the meantime, here are some general points about the executor removal process.
An executor, sometimes referred to as a personal representative, has specific duties and authority under North Carolina law. When someone creates a last will and testament, that person, called the testator, can choose anyone he or she likes to act as executor of the estate. If the person selected is a capable adult of sound mind and accepts the nomination, the probate court (known as the Clerk of the Superior Court in North Carolina) will usually approve that person as the executor.
Further, the only person who has control over executor nominations is the testator. Testator’s can choose whomever they want and they do not need to seek approval from the court, estate beneficiaries, or anyone else.
The primary duties of any personal representative are to preserve, collect, liquidate, or distribute the decedent’s estate. The executor, after the testator dies, needs to do everything he or she can reasonably do in order to ensure that the testator’s wishes are followed and that the estate property is properly distributed. The executor must act expeditiously, safely, and orderly, but is otherwise allowed to take reasonable actions as he or she deems necessary to ensuring the proper handling of the estate.
Executors must act in the best interests of the estate beneficiaries. Whenever they fail to perform their duties to that standard, they could face removal by the court. Only a court can order the removal of an executor from an estate, and will typically only do so if the evidence shows that the executor has been remiss in his or her duties.
For example, personal representatives must do everything they can to ensure the estate is properly managed while they determine who inherits estate property. If an executor misuses his or her position by spending estate funds wildly during this management period, or by otherwise misusing estate property, this could lead to removal.
Other grounds for removal include incompetence, ineligibility, and theft from the estate.
Removing an Executor Process
Any interested party can file a petition for the removal of an executor. An interested party is someone who stands to inherit from the estate, or who will otherwise be affected by the estate outcome. If you want to challenge or remove an executor in North Carolina, you need to speak to an estate planning and probate attorney.