People generally assume the role of estate executor via one of two paths. In some cases, an individual agrees ahead of time to administer someone else’s estate and has their name included in estate planning paperwork. Other times, the probate courts may appoint a specific individual to manage the estate of someone who has died without first naming an executor.
Usually, the party appointed by the courts or chosen by the decedent will serve their role and handle the probate process. They’ll file paperwork, attend court hearings and abide by state law when managing and distributing estate resources. However, occasionally, it is necessary to remove the executor of an estate. Incompetence, inaction or unethical behavior are all reasons to potentially remove and executor from their position of authority.
The courts will appoint a replacement
After successful litigation to remove an executor, the probate courts will need to name someone else to assume those responsibilities. That new executor will have to complete the estate administration process and may need to take legal action on behalf of the estate related to the failures or misconduct of the removed executor.
The executor who has been removed may face consequences
In scenarios where someone embezzled or engaged in self-dealing to earn money through their role as executor, they may face consequences for their actions. The new executor could potentially take legal action seeking compensation for the amounts embezzled from the estate, for example.
Estate administration may take longer to resolve
Virginia estate administration is already a lengthy process even when the courts only need to oversee the distribution of assets and repayment of creditors. Any estate requiring litigation in the midst of administration will likely require more time to fully resolve. Litigation to remove an executor could increase the length of time required to administer the estate by multiple months.
Those who are considering challenging an executor and those who are expecting to inherit from an estate currently embroiled in litigation should anticipate a lengthy process to resolve those conflicts and complete the estate administration process. Knowing what happens after the removal of an executor can help people better plan for the next stages of estate administration when someone has failed in their role.