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When can families remove the representative of an estate?

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Estate Planning And Litigation |

The California probate courts oversee the administration of many estates. They also sometimes hear lawsuits. Probate litigation could result from questions about the validity of an estate plan when families question the documents.

Other times, family members of the deceased or beneficiaries of an estate decide to take legal action against the personal representative of the estate. A personal representative handles the probate process, manages estate resources and eventually distributes assets to beneficiaries in accordance with estate planning paperwork and state law.

Those with an interest in an estate can potentially seek the removal of the person handling the estate. When is the removal of a personal representative possible?

When they cannot perform their job

Estate administration requires mental effort and often the physical presence of the person managing the process. They need to show up in court, physically collect resources and communicate with interested parties. Some people seek to remove the personal representative of an estate because they are medically incapable of performing their duties. Someone’s hospitalization might be grounds for their removal, as was their incarceration because they could not theoretically fulfill their obligations anymore.

When they have cost the estate money

The personal representative of an estate has a fiduciary duty to its beneficiaries. They should always seek to act in their best interest. Typically, that means making every reasonable effort to maximize what beneficiaries receive. The incompetent investment of estate resources or the mismanagement of physical assets could significantly reduce their value. When beneficiaries have documentation supporting claims that a personal representative’s actions have significantly diminished the total value of the estate, they may have grounds to take legal action.

When they have proven corrupt

Having the authority to distribute thousands of dollars in personal property can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Some personal representatives embezzle from the estates that they administer. Others let their relationships with beneficiaries dictate how they fulfill their duties. Evidence of misconduct can potentially justify a request to remove someone from their role as personal representative.

Monitoring the estate administration process may help those with an interest in an estate take timely action if it becomes necessary to protect that estate.

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