Category: Estate Planning
Tags: Administration, Probate

What Happens if an Executor Doesn’t Do Their Job in North Carolina?

Posted on: July 8th, 2015
executor removalAn executor’s responsibilities are legal requirements, and one of those duties is to act in the best interest of the estate. Mismanaging funds, failing to file probate or distribute the estate could lead to removal of the executor. Executor removal in North Carolina is not a simple process.

Our estate planning attorneys in Chapel Hill help guide executors through the estate administration process. Sometimes individuals elect to handle the process without the counsel of an attorney, but this area of law can be complicated to understand without professional guidance. This is especially true if assets in multiple states are involved. 

Generally, provisions in a will include who the testator appointed as their executor. In the event a testator dies without a will, the North Carolina probate court will appoint an executor. An individual named as an executor is not required to accept the position. The court can select a replacement if the original individual named in the will declines. However, if the appointed executor accepts and then exploits their authority or fails to meet their responsibilities, another individual or business can file a petition with the court to have the executor removed. 

After filing a petition for removal, the petitioner must provide evidence of the alleged grounds for removal. What will the courts recognize in order to remove an executor? The court will consider evidence that the executor:
  • Refuses to probate the estate
  • Will not release the original will
  • Squanders assets in the estate
  • Becomes incapacitated
  • Develops a conflict of interest

Estate litigation in North Carolina might lengthen an already time-consuming probate process. Interested parties should consult with an estate planning or probate attorney before filing a petition. Our state’s courts do not recognize certain grounds for executor removal such as rude behavior, delayed contact, failing to keep beneficiaries informed, stalling the estate administration, or other trivial matters. To help establish clear evidence, a potential petitioner should request an estate audit and consult with an attorney prior to filing a petition. 

Executors are required by law to administer the estate accordingly. In some circumstances, the executor might be found in contempt, face time in jail, and be liable for court costs associated with their wrongdoings. Gather as much evidence as possible before petitioning the court.
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Comments (2)

On 03 Apr 2017 TrustCounsel says:
The next step is to schedule a hearing before the Clerk, and file a Notice of Hearing and serve it on the Executor and any other beneficiaries.
On 31 Mar 2017 Ellen Kirkland says:
I have already filed for removal of the executor, he has responded in a timely manner although his responses are not supported by evidence. What is the next step?

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