can a co executor remove the other executor from a will?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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can a co executor remove the other executor from a will?

can my brother change my fathers will as an executor and me as a co
executor and coerce my father who had a stoke to exclude me from the
will. The will was drawn up and signed when
my mother and father were of sound mind and memory

Asked on September 10, 2017 under Estate Planning, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) One executor cannot remove a co-executor from a will except potentially by bringing a legal action against his co-executor if he suspects wrongdoing, in which case the court could review the evidence, and if it concurs there is wrongdoing, remove an executor.
Obviously, since there cannot be wrongdoing by an executor until he or she begins carrying out his/her duties, this cannot occur until after the testator (person making the will; your father) passes away.
2) While the testator (your father) is alive, as long as he is mentally competent, he may freely change his will, including changing or removing executors. A will is not set in stone, but may be changed (as long the change is properly signed and witnesses) at any time prior to death.
While you write that your father had a stroke, unless he has been determined to be incomptent now by the courts, the presumption is that he is competent and can make or change a will. If you believe he is incompetent, you likely need to bring a legal action to have him declared such and guardian appointed to manage his affairs--and if he is incompetent, that will simultanesouly stop him from revising his will. If you wish to consider this option, consult with an elder law attorney.
Note that if you don't have the chance to do this (e.g. your father passes too suddenly), you could try to challenge the will after the fact, when it is filed for probate, on the grounds that your father was in fact incompetent when he made it, but if your father has already passed, it may be more difficult to get and present evidence of incomptency then.
3) Your brother cannot use force, threats of violence, or threats of illegal actions (taking property; restricting your father's ability to communicate with others or travel; etc.) to force him to make a change; if he does engage that type of illegal coercion, that could invalidate the new/revised will. But he can nag, "guilt," hector, etc. your father until he makes the changes--as long as the things he is doing are themselves legal (e.g. "emotional" blackmail, as opposed to financial or criminal blackmail), he can try to persuade  your father to do what he wants, as can you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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