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Removing an Executor

Removing an Executor or Personal Representative in Indiana

There are certain situations in which an executor can be removed from this role. An executor of an estate in Indiana should be familiar with the legal responsibilities and duties he or she has. Removal of the executor of a will is usually brought up by beneficiaries of that will who believe that the executor is not acting within the bounds of the law. The executor of an Indiana will has a responsibility to the testator to carry out the terms and conditions of the will at the time that this testator passes away.

Over the course of life, however, the testator might elect to remove this person from the will as executor and replace them. It becomes complicated to remove an Indiana executor from an estate after the creator of the will has passed away, but it is not impossible. There are many different reasons why the court might approve the removal of an executor from an estate. If it can be shown, for example, that the executor is not capable of performing the necessary duties, has become disqualified or is unsuitable for the position, the court might approve the removal of the Indiana executor.

What Does an Executor in Indiana Do?

The primary duties of an executor are to carry out the intent of the will by acting within the best interests of the beneficiaries and in good faith. This means that if the executor of has already stepped into this role and has done a careless or poor job of managing the estate, this can be grounds for removal. This mismanagement must be severe and damaging to the estate.

The standard for best interest of beneficiaries is evaluated by the court and is usually brought out by someone who believes that the beneficiaries have not been fully or fairly represented by the actions of the executor.

A significant departure from those interests could be required in order to take an executor off of an estate. If it can be shown, for example, that the executor is wasting the assets of the estate, this is a very clear violation.

However, if an executor makes an investment with which the beneficiaries disagree, this might not meet the grounds for removal of the executor, because it is not agreed just in nature. Unsuitability is another common issue that can involve removal of an executor in Indiana. If the executor has a conflict of interest in managing the estate, such as selling off stock with which he or she holds stock individually. This can become a conflict of interest that is significant enough to remove him or her from this role.

Even in this case, however, if the deceased was aware of this potential conflict of interest and still continued with the appointment of the executor, no conflict exists. Conflict of interest can be very difficult to prove because determining what meets the grounds of suitability is within the discretion of the individual court.

Courts do not remove executors for frivolous reasons, such as arguing or being rude with beneficiaries, refusing to invest in state assets, taking a long time to settle the estate, or withholding information from the beneficiaries. An interested person must file a formal court proceeding if intending to remove a party as executor of the will.

An interested person is a business or individual that has a stake in the estate assets. Legal ineligibility could also lead to removal of an estate executor. If that person is mentally incompetent, has past felonies or is involved in other complex litigation, an executor could be found ineligible. Other grounds for removal of an Indiana estate executor include wasting estate assets, stealing from the estate, or refusing to obey a court order.        

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