The executor of an estate (or “personal representative,” as they’re known under Texas law) has a big job – even if the deceased left a relatively small and uncomplicated estate. If you’re a beneficiary of an estate, you may not agree with the person your loved one chose (or whom the probate court chose, if the deceased didn’t name one).
You may not think they’re qualified or trustworthy enough to handle the responsibility – even if it’s another family member. They may seem to be proving you right. Maybe they’re not moving as fast as you think they should, aren’t returning your calls or emails right away or they just seem to be disorganized.
What does Texas law say?
That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s sufficient cause to seek their removal. As long as they meet the requirements for being a personal representative (for example, are at least 18 and of sound mind), a beneficiary can only seek their removal by the probate court and the appointment of someone else if they have evidence of misconduct or failure to do their job as defined by Texas law.
Among the reasons a probate judge can remove a personal representative are the following:
- They’ve “misapplied, embezzled, or removed from the state” property that belongs to it.
- They’ve engaged in “gross misconduct or mismanagement in the performance of any duties.”
- They’ve failed to comply with a court order.
- They’re determined to be “incapable of properly performing any duties of trust.”
- They haven’t settled the estate within three years (unless they’ve obtained an extension from the court).
While beneficiaries are typically the only ones who can petition to remove a personal representative, a probate judge may do so on their own if there’s a valid reason.
Learning more about the reasons a personal representative can be removed can help you determine whether you should petition the court. If there really is a problem (particularly if you believe they’re engaging in illegal activity), you want to deal with it sooner rather than later. However, you also want to give them a chance to do their job if they’re making an honest effort. Having legal guidance can help you determine how best to proceed.