Removing a Professional Executor of a Will
01 December 2017
When someone dies, if they left a Will then this will usually name an Executor, which is the person that the deceased person has chosen to administer their Estate. The Executor can be a friend or relative of the deceased, or it could be a professional, such as a firm of Solicitors, a bank or other institution.
Why Remove a Professional Executor?
The reasons for a Professional Executor being removed from carrying out their duties can vary. It may be because disputes have arisen between the Professional Executor and another Executor, or between the Professional Executor and a Beneficiary of the Estate.
Sometimes a Beneficiary or another Executor might feel that the Professional Executor is delaying the administration of the Estate, or not conducting the administration in the right way.
Generally a Professional Executor will charge a fee to act as Executor. This can sometimes be a significant sum of money, which is another reason why Beneficiaries of the Estate may wish to remove the professional as the Executor and appoint a friend or family member instead.
How to Remove a Professional Executor
The first step would be to contact the Professional Executor and request that they renounce as Executor of the Will (resign), but they are under no obligation to do so. An Executor cannot renounce after they have started to administer an Estate.
Solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have a duty of care to act in their client’s best interests, so should only be appointed as the Professional Executor of the Estate if this really is in the best interests of the deceased person and their Estate. Otherwise, ethically they should agree to renounce the position. Banks, financial institutions, some Will writing companies and other organisations are not regulated by the SRA.
Often the decision to remove an Executor will be made after a Grant of Probate has been obtained and work on the administration of the Estate has begun.
In these circumstances an application can be made to the High Court to request to have them removed. The application will need to outline the reasons for wanting the Professional Executor removed. It will also need to provide the details of the Estate, including the approximate value and the Beneficiaries. It should also include details of who would take over the role in place of the Professional Executor.
If there has been any misconduct in the actions of the Professional Executor, then the misconduct would need to be proven and the Court will then consider this evidence.
Regardless of whether any misconduct has taken place, the Court would consider both sides of the argument, taking into account the views of the Beneficiaries and the interests of the Estate as a whole. If relations between the Professional Executor and Beneficiaries had broken down to such a point that it impacted on the administration of the Estate, then the Court would also take this into consideration when making its decision.
Why Would a Professional be Named as an Executor?
Unless the deceased person voiced their reasons for naming a Professional Executor in their Will, it could be difficult to determine their motives. It may be that they wanted an independent professional to take care of things to avoid causing unnecessary upset or stress to family members, or it might be that they simply knew the professional well and trusted them to deal with their Estate effectively.
Alternatively, it could be because all of the beneficiaries in the Estate were children when the Will was written, meaning it would not have been appropriate to name them as Executors.
Another reason for appointing a professional as an Executor could be the security that they will still be present and able to act decades down the line, whereas family members and friends may not be. Even if the named professional or firm of Solicitors is no longer doing business, a successor can often be appointed in their place.
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