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Removal of Personal Representative

Nashville Attorney Skilled in Estate Planning Matters

Many situations can arise that may require the removal of a personal representative during (or in anticipation of) the administration of an estate. Sometimes, changing the designation of a personal representative is a fairly easy thing to accomplish, but other times it is more complicated. As with other matters concerning estate planning, wills, and trust administration, it is best to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific situation with a Nashville estate planning lawyer like Randy Ratliff.

A “personal representative” is the person who is appointed by the court to administer the estate of someone who has passed away. This term is technically applicable only to intestate estates – that is, estates in which the deceased person did not have a will. However, it is often used interchangeably with the terms “executor” or “executrix,” which refer to the person named in a last will and testament to administer an estate. Sometimes, a person who has written a will desires to change the executor of their estate while they are still living. Maybe there has been a change in circumstances, or perhaps the person so-named has died, moved out of the area, or expressed to the testator that they do not want to serve as the personal representative of the estate. Removing a personal representative is usually fairly straightforward while the testator or testatrix is still living and legally competent to enter into an estate planning document. A codicil to the will can provide a quick fix in most situations. It is best to discuss this with an attorney, however, rather than resorting to self-help through a form from the internet, since there are strict legal requirements for the drafting, signing, and witnessing of testamentary documents, including wills. Failing to comply with the law may render the attempted removal of the personal representative ineffective.

Removing a Personal Representative Once an Estate Has Been Opened

There are two basic reasons for the removal of a personal representative once the deceased person has passed away, and an estate has been opened. First, the person appointed as personal representative may be unwilling or unable to continue serving in this capacity. In such a case, they should petition the court to be relieved of the duty of administering the estate and appoint someone else to replace them. If the personal representative is incapacitated, one of the heirs, or even a creditor of the estate, may step forward to file the appropriate documents. Usually, the court will grant a request to remove the personal representative in this situation so that the estate can be administered in a timely and efficient manner.

The other situation that can arise occurs when the personal representative is willing and able to serve, but the heirs, creditors, or other interested parties are displeased with their service. It can be more difficult to remove the person as executor, executrix, or personal representative in these situations. While a petition can be filed seeking the person’s removal, the probate court must be convinced that there is a legitimate reason for the change, such as a dereliction of duties, malfeasance, or other neglect or wrongdoing. Removing a personal representative under these conditions can be very contentious, especially if the person who is sought to be removed is a family member of the person petitioning for the change.

Schedule a Consultation with a Nashville Attorney to Understand Your Options

The passing of a loved one can cause much sorrow, stress, and hardship for those left behind. Former squabbles can be reignited, pitting family members against one another. A careful estate plan can avoid a public battle in many cases, but unfortunately this is not always possible. Nashville lawyer Randy Ratliff is here to serve the probate and estate administration needs of people living in Antioch, Hermitage, Madison, Goodlettsville, Joelton, Franklin, Brentwood, Cool Springs, or elsewhere in Davidson or Williamson Counties. For an appointment, call us today at 615-656-8282 or contact us online.