California Probate: Removing An Executor Or Administrator Of An Estate
In California, the executor of a decedent’s Will is mandated by law to follow the terms of the decedent’s Will in conformity with California probate laws. If there is no Will, an administrator has a fiduciary duty to comply with the state’s intestacy laws. While most executors and administrators meet their fiduciary obligations, there are a few who don’t. Fortunately, California allows for the removal of an executor or administrator that fails to meet their fiduciary duties. California law permits interested parties to petition the probate court to remove an executor or administrator.
What Is an Executor or Administrator of an Estate or Will?
In simple terms, an executor or administrator is a person or entity whose responsibility is to manage a decedent’s estate. Usually, the term “executor” applies when there is a Will, and the word “administrator” is used in situations where there is no Will.
The personal representative (i.e., the executor or administrator) of a decedent’s estate carries out several tasks during the probate process. Among other things, the executor or administrator of a decedent’s estate is responsible for;
- ensuring all assets are located and appraised,
- determining and finding the decedent’s beneficiaries,
- ensuring all debts and taxes are paid,
- ensuring remaining assets are distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
When Can an Executor or Administrator Be Removed?
As already mentioned, while many personal representatives perform their duties as they should, some do not. If a California executor or administrator does not meet their fiduciary obligations, they can be removed.
In California, the personal representative of an estate can be removed under various circumstances. According to California State Probate Code Section 8502, an executor or administrator can be removed from office for any of the following causes:
- The personal representative has embezzled, wasted, mismanaged, or committed a fraud on the estate or is about to do so.
- The executor or administrator has wrongfully neglected the estate or has long forgotten to perform any act as personal representative.
- The executor or administrator is incapable of adequately executing their responsibilities or is otherwise not qualified for appointment as personal representative.
- Removal is necessary for the protection of the estate or interested persons.
- Any other cause provided by statute.
It is crucial to note that bad behavior is not the only reason an executor or administrator can be removed from office, although it is often the reason for removal. California Probate Code Sections 8503, 8504, and 8505 contain other grounds to remove an executor or administrator in a California probate.
Who Is Eligible to Petition for the Removal of an Executor or Administrator in California?
According to California law, any interested person can petition for the removal of an executor or administrator. The court, on its own motion, may also seek to remove an administrator or executor.
When an interested person petitions for the removal of a personal representative, they must state facts showing cause for removal in their petition. A court will only remove an administrator or executor if the cause for removal exists. It’s usually up to the party seeking removal to prove that a cause for removal exists.
Contact a California Probate Lawyer
Do you need help removing a California personal representative from the office? Are you a personal representative who believes they are being unfairly removed from office? Contact the dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen -The Probate Guy- today to schedule a telephonic consultation.