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Probate: What happens when beneficiaries want to remove an executor or administrator?

I often come across cases where personal representatives and beneficiaries don’t get on and one party wants to remove another.  Can this be done after an executor or administrator has obtained a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration?

The short answer is yes, but there needs to be a very good reason!

An application to remove or substitute a personal representative is usually brought under s50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985.  The court will then consider the welfare of the beneficiaries.

Removal applications are expensive and the court will therefore want to see a compelling reason for the removal, together with evidence that that no alternative means of resolving the dispute exists.

The person making the removal application will need to show that the estate cannot be properly administered for the benefit of the beneficiaries in the existing situation.  Applications based on personal friction, which do not impede the administration of the estate, will be rejected unless you can show that the estate is in deadlock and that the benefits of new personal representatives will outweigh the additional costs of their replacement.

This type of application should always be a last resort after trying to agree the appointment of a neutral personal representative.

By Karen Shakespeare, 24th May 2013

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