When an individual chooses an executor, there is an expectation that the person will ethically oversee the distribution of assets to those mentioned in the will.
Though it is common for family members may disapprove of the actions taken, it is possible for an executor to overstep their bounds and abuse their position.
The duties of an executor
The primary role of an executor is the distribution of assets after an individual dies. The executor identifies and gathers any estate assets, often in various forms. The executor must pay any taxes or debts of the estate until the final settlement. These individuals must fulfill the wishes of the testator concerning the distributions of the assets.
The way to challenge an executor
If you feel the executor is abusing the situation they are in or is not fulfilling their legal requirements, you could work to have the executor removed. The court considers the removal a very serious thing and only grants the removal in rare circumstances.
The Surrogate Court needs evidence of:
- Improper or illegal activity
- Incompetence by physical or mental incapacity
- Controlled substance abuse
Only those with an interest in the estate are able to seek the removal of an executor. Interested parties, such as creditors, beneficiaries and coexecutors, are typically eligible to challenge the executor in court.
Because New York policy is to support the testator’s selection of an executor, the Surrogate Court carefully weighs out the evidence presented. The court only intervenes when there is a genuine threat to the estate.