What would be sufficient grounds for removal of the executor of an estate?

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What would be sufficient grounds for removal of the executor of an estate?

The executor had provided beneficiaries a total estate cash asset value of about $150,000 and provided corresponding deposit slips from 3 banks that totaled that amount. An interim accounting was produced by an estate attorney that was retained after the executor would not provide further details or supporting statements for verification of account balances and activity. As a result of the interim accounting an additional 3 banks were disclosed along with about an additional $40,000 not previously disclosed. Also, the executor had withdrawn about $60,000 of the estate cash assets for himself without discusion or approval of the other beneficiaries 4 beneficiaries including the executor.

Asked on August 25, 2015 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

 The executor's theft of the $60,000 would be grounds for removal because the executor breached a fiduciary duty owed to the estate.  The estate can sue the executor and obtain the remedy of a constructive trust which would require the executor to return the funds to the estate.  A constructive trust can also be used to trace the funds to acquisitions by the executor in order for the estate to recover those items or their value.
The executor's negligence regarding not knowing about the additional three banks and $40,000 held in those accounts would also be grounds for removal.
Failure to provide verification of account balances and activity would be another ground for removal of the executor.
A successor executor should be appointed.


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