When your loved one and his or her trust and estate lawyer create a will, an individual is named to administer the estate. This person, commonly referred to as an executor, will make sure that the estate’s debts are paid and that bequests are distributed as outlined in the estate plan. While in most cases, the person chosen for this important task is more than capable of handling the duties, occasionally an executor is chosen who is unable to fulfill the duties. When this happens, you may need to challenge the appointment, and keeping the following advice in mind will help you navigate a potentially difficult process.

Document Communication Issues

One of the most important requirements of being an executor is having good communication skills. The executor is the first point of contact with probate court, creditors, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and beneficiaries. If people can not get in touch with the executor, then the business of the estate is unnecessarily delayed.  Any problems you have getting in touch with the executor of the estate should be documented. Should you need to challenge their appointment being able to prove that they have poor communication habits strengthens your case against them.

Have Proof

Remember, having a bad feeling about a person or their actions is not enough to compel a court to go against instructions left in a legally executed will. You must have proof that some impropriety has occurred before going to court with your accusations. If you believe the executor used undue influence to get the appointment, the will was forged, or any other illegal activity occurred, then prepare to show the court proof that misdeeds took place. Your odds of getting the court to appoint a new administrator improve if you are able to submit solid evidence that your claims are based on facts rather than feelings.

Participate in Everything

As a beneficiary of an estate, you have the legal right to participate in any hearing concerning the estate. To secure that right and show the court that you are aware of everything that is happening with the estate, make it a point to attend all hearings. You have a better chance of winning your challenge if you can show the court that you have a complete understanding of the estate and have taken the time to stay on top of everything that is going on in court. Being active also increases your chances of having a say over who becomes the new estate administrator, especially if the current executor was appointed by the court and not through a will.

Get Legal Advice First

Prior to making any serious decisions, take the time to speak to a qualified attorney about your concerns. There are times when an executor is not doing a bad job, just dealing with a complex estate. A qualified attorney can tell you whether or not contesting a will or challenging an executor is a good idea. The legal team at MMZ Law understands how stressful probate is and we work with you to navigate the stressful process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so that we can answer your questions and provide you with the legal advice you deserve.



341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.