3 reasons people may seek the removal of a personal representative

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2023 | Estate Planning

The personal representative of an estate in Pennsylvania has a lot of responsibilities. They have to locate any estate planning paperwork that the deceased drafted and secure estate resources. They need to communicate with beneficiaries, the probate courts and creditors. They will also need to liquidate assets and then distribute what remains in accordance with state law and testamentary documents.

The actions and choices of the representative of an estate will have a direct impact on someone’s legacy and the inheritance of their loved ones. Sometimes, the people who expect to inherit from an estate go to probate court and ask to remove the personal representative from their role. When does Pennsylvania state law allow for the removal of a personal representative?

If they have diminished the estate

Failures by a personal representative could include leaving assets in an unsecured location where they end up stolen or failing to properly manage them so that they lose value. Sometimes, they fail to initiate probate proceedings or put their personal wishes ahead of the instructions provided by the testator. When the beneficiaries of an estate can show that the actions or omissions of a personal representative have directly diminished the value of the estate, they may be able to ask the courts to remove the representative from their role.

If they have become incapacitated

People often select someone they know and trust as their personal representative. Particularly if the decedent lived a long life, their personal representative could be at a very advanced age while handling estate administration. In scenarios where someone has begun to experience cognitive decline, it is often possible to remove them from their role as a personal representative of an estate.

If they face certain criminal charges

In theory, an individual’s personal legal struggles will not automatically prevent them from serving as the representative of an estate. However, Pennsylvania law allows families to seek the removal of an individual accused of homicide or voluntary manslaughter. The only exception would be cases involving vehicular homicide.

Anytime that a personal representative makes major mistakes or fails to perform their duties, they can negatively impact a decedent’s legacy and the inheritance of their chosen beneficiaries. Going to court to remove an ineffective personal representative is a difficult but sometimes necessary endeavor as a result.

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