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Published On: October 8, 2019 | Blog | 0 comments

Can a beneficiary remove/replace an executor or administrator?

If you are a beneficiary, you are entitled to apply to the Court to seek the removal/replacement of an executor or administrator.  However, whether you succeed in this application is another matter entirely.

An executor is appointed by the will of an individual who has passed away (the deceased). An administrator is appointed where the deceased has failed to leave a valid will.  Collectively, they are known as “Personal Representatives”.

The primary role of a Personal Representative is to collect the assets of the deceased, pay off their liabilities and properly distribute the estate according to the terms of the will or rules of intestacy (if there is no valid will).

Personal Representatives also have strict duties to avoid conflicts of interests, produce proper estate accounts and to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries and the estate.  This applies even in circumstances where the Personal Representative is also a beneficiary of the estate.

If you are a beneficiary and believe that a Personal Representative is failing to progress the administration or is acting against your interests, you may wish to consider a Court application to remove/replace them.  In some cases, this is the only way to progress the administration.  It can also sometimes be the only way to protect the assets in the estate.

If there has been misconduct, the replacement Personal Representative can also investigate the wrongdoing and (if appropriate) bring a claim against the individual removed to recover any financial loss caused to the estate.

If a Grant has been taken out from the Probate Registry, a beneficiary will need to apply to the Court under s50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 to achieve this outcome. The section gives the Court the power to remove or replace a Personal Representative where there is a Grant.

However, the Court does not exercise this power lightly.  It will not remove a Personal Representative simply because there has been a falling out and the beneficiaries do not want them to continue.  Beneficiaries have no automatic right to removal even if they are in unanimous agreement.

The key consideration for the Court is whether the Personal Representative can properly administer the estate. If a beneficiary can show that there has been misconduct by the Personal Representative or that the existing hostility will make it impossible for the estate to be properly administered, they are likely to succeed.

We would recommend that you seek legal advice before commencing any Court proceedings to remove or replace a Personal Representative.  It is always desirable to try and resolve disputes at an early stage to save stress, time and legal costs.

If you want advice on removing a Personal Representative, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our contentious probate team.

*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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4 thoughts on “Can a beneficiary remove/replace an executor or administrator?

  1. Hi Dan,
    My brother died in 2020 and although he had a will where me and my sister were the named executors, the will was not signed.
    My brother has two adopted daughters, one of whom applied to be the administrator.
    Since that time, she has kept the other daughter completely in the dark about the proceedings so far.
    She took my brothers car and cleared out his bank account. The other daughter has no idea where this money has gone.
    My brothers pension pot was split between the two girls and half paid into each of their bank accounts.
    When the daughter who isn’t the administror tried to move the money to a newer bank account she was asked to fill in a form, which she did, along with her passport, to be provided by her mother.
    Suddenly the bank account was frozen and the she didn’t know why.
    Last week, she showed me a letter from the NatWest frozen bank account saying that they could not transfer the money due to what they suspected to be fraudulent behaviour. They returned the form and I was horrified to see that her name and bank account details had been crossed out and replaced with her mother’s name and account details.
    The daughter who is not the administrator has autism and so can be quite difficult to pin down, but both of them are over 18.
    So do you think my sister and I could have the other sister removed as the administrator? Particularly as she is not acting in the best interests of the estate.
    There is a house to be sold yet and we are worried that there are other plans to keep the autistic daughter from her inheritance.
    What do you think?

  2. My mother died on 13th November last year, my uncle and brother were named as executors, her house has been sold and the money is being held by a solicitor and there is money in a bank account. The estate is not being distributed because my uncle wants the solicitor to handle the distribution and my brother wants to set up an executor account so he can distribute it. I and my brother are equal beneficiaries, I support my uncle, Can I apply to have my brother removed as an executor as he is stopping any distribution going forward.

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