Removing an Executor of an Estate? Here’s How in NJ
Executors can be removed by the beneficiaries for a number of reasons if the beneficiaries wish, but the process and considerations in New Jersey are important to know.
An estate is the compilation of property, both real and personal, that you have acquired throughout the course of your life. When you pass away, the property you leave behind is still in existence (obviously) and will have to be transferred into the possession of others. The person in charge of doing this for you is called an executor. Executors are in charge of the administration and distribution of an estate after someone dies.
Executors are not limited by the decedent because they represent the decedent once the person becomes deceased. Usually the decedent names the executor in the instrument, or legal document, that details the administration of the estate, such as a will. Executors are only in communication with the beneficiaries of the estate since they represent the decedent’s wishes as far as their estate is concerned and how the estate is related to the beneficiaries.
Criteria That Must be Met in Order to Remove Someone as an Executor in NJ
Beneficiaries can choose to remove an executor from their post if they feel that the executor has failed to timely administer the estate. This means that the executor has failed to adhere to their duty to timely administer the estate and has taken too long to do it. Beneficiaries may file a motion with the court requesting that they remove the executor. At this time, the court will put in place certain deadlines for the executor to meet. If those deadlines are not met, the executor will be removed.
Executors can also be removed when they fail to maintain accurate records of the administration of the estate or the estate itself. Executors have a duty to keep records of the estate for purposes of its administration. This is extremely important because the proper accounting of the estate is necessary for the proper administration of it.
Another obvious basis for removal is when the executor mixes personal assets with the assets of the estate, whether by accident or on purpose. This is considered the executor’s failure to adhere to their fiduciary duty in the administration of the estate. Another reason that falls under this basis is if the executor engages in conversion, otherwise known as theft, of the assets of the estate for their own personal gain. When an executor steals from the estate that they are supposed to be administering, then they can most certainly be removed.
There are several other reasons that the executor can be removed, such as bias, favoritism, or any show that the executor has engaged in wrongdoing or criminal behavior.
Role of the Court in the Removal of an Executor
Once an action is filed by the beneficiaries, or related parties to the administration of the estate, then the court will then step in to ensure that the executor is either removed or that the administration of the estate is proper. This all depends upon whether the filer of the action can produce enough evidence that displays the executor has failed to adhere to one of the many duties owed to the beneficiary and/or to the estate.
Associated Costs to Consider in Removing an Executor
Besides having to retain an attorney to make sure that the proper evidence is compiled in order to prove your case and have the executor be removed, the executor is allowed to use the funds of the estate to defend themselves against removal. It can be a very timely process, but more importantly, it can significantly impact your inheritance or benefit from the estate. In the end, however, it can be more costly not to remove someone than to ensure their proper removal from the executor’s role.
How Does the Removal of the Executor Work in NJ?
An action for removal can be filed by a beneficiary when there are grounds for removal. The action is filed with the court and the court will determine if the grounds are sufficient. This determination is based upon whether or not you have made a sufficient showing of evidence that the executor has failed to oblige by one or more of their duties owed to beneficiaries and to the estate. Like it was previously mentioned, funds from the estate may be utilized by the executor in order to defend themselves against the action for removal. This is extremely important to understand, because hiring an inexperienced attorney may be severely detrimental to both your current assets and what you stand to inherit. If an inexperienced attorney is hired, they may cause the proceedings to last unnecessarily long, causing more lawyer fees for both the beneficiary and the executor.
Contact a Talented Brick Estate Plan Lawyer for Help in the Process of Removing an Executor in New Jersey
Hiring an experienced wills, trusts, and estates attorney will provide you with the peace of mind that the actions will be handled as swiftly as possible. A knowledgeable lawyer with past experience handling estates, as well as the process for adding, removing, and executing the role of executor in New Jersey can help you compile the proper evidence and the attorney will know what evidence is typically required by the court in order to grant an action for removal of the executor. At Bronzino Law Firm our law firm has spent over a decade helping individuals and families with a wide range of estate-related matters in Toms River, Manalapan, Rumson, Howell, Holmdel, Middletown, Point Pleasant, and towns throughout Monmouth and Ocean County. Contact our offices in Brick or Sea Girt for a no-cost consultation and find answers and legal counsel from a seasoned estate lawyer who is primed to assist you. Call (732) 812-3102 or reach us via our website to learn more.