The executor or personal representative of an estate will have a lot of responsibilities to fulfill. They must manage the probate process in the courts and take care of the resources left behind by the decedent. They have to distribute assets, file tax returns and repay creditors.
Most people are happy to leave the arduous task of estate administration to the personal representative selected by the testator before their death or appointed by the Florida probate courts at the beginning of the estate administration process. In some unusual circumstances, however, family members or beneficiaries may need to go back to probate court and seek the removal of a personal representative.
What circumstances would justify probate litigation to challenge the role of the person managing the estate? Here are three examples:
Sometimes, the individual designated to serve as the personal representative has health issues that will prevent them from fulfilling their obligations. Long-term hospitalization or conditions that affect someone’s cognitive abilities may justify their removal from their role as the representative of an estate in Florida.
2. Criminal activity or probate misconduct
The law also allows for the removal of a personal representative after their conviction for a felony offense. A criminal conviction isn’t necessary if there is evidence that the representative engaged in misconduct with the assets from the estate.
Being unable to provide documents related to the sale or transfer of assets or to quickly resolve concerns about embezzlement from the estate may lead to the removal of the representative from their role.
3. Mismanagement of estate assets
There are many ways for a personal representative to diminish the value of an estate. They could invest the estate’s resources poorly or fail to secure them from criminal activity. Or, they might sell assets for far less than what they are worth.
In scenarios where a representative’s actions diminish the value of an estate, the affected beneficiaries affected can potentially ask the courts to intervene and remove the personal representative from their role. In some situations, they may even be able to recover the losses caused by the mismanagement. Initiating probate litigation may be the only way to protect the legacy someone intended to leave behind from the negative consequences of someone else’s behavior.