Our last post provided an overview and some basic background information on executor removal in Texas. Now, we turn to the next step—the legal requirements for when an executor may be removed. Essentially, those requirements can be sorted into two buckets: (a) who has legal standing to seek removal and (b) when a removal proceeding may be initiated.
Only Interested Persons Can Seek the Removal of a Texas Executor
Texas law limits the class of persons that can seek removal of an executor. This gatekeeping criteria is called legal standing. Only interested persons have standing to ask the court to remove an executor. This term refers to people with a financial interest in the estate of the deceased person. Most often, the interested person seeking removal is a beneficiary who receives property under the deceased person’s will. If the deceased person died without a will, that person’s legal heirs are interested persons and have standing to seek removal of the administrator. Creditors and those with claims against the deceased person also count as interested persons. For example, if an executor stops paying off the deceased person’s loan, the lender may wish to seek removal.
Occasionally, the probate court can remove an executor without being asked. In practice, this typically happens when an executor fails to comply with prescribed court procedures. Courts have varied preferences, customs, and tendencies, however. We recommend that you contact a Texas probate lawyer to ask about the probate court where your estate is pending.
You May Remove a Texas Executor After Appointment, Misconduct, and Service
Interested persons must properly time their request to remove an executor. While it may seem obvious, you cannot remove an executor who hasn’t been appointed by a Texas probate court. Interested persons, however, can ask a probate court to decline the appointment of an executor. This procedure requires different proof and uses different legal standards than removal. Typically, it’s advisable to challenge an executor’s appointment before they’re appointed, rather than waiting to remove the executor until after they are appointed.
In addition, you must have an adequate reason to remove the executor. Usually, probate courts remove executors after they commit specific types of misconduct. In rare circumstances, however, a probate court can remove the executor before the executor commits misconduct. This will be discussed in more detail in our next post in this series. Interested persons may also need to arrange for personal service of a legal citation on the executor before removal of the executor. This depends on the type of misconduct involved with the removal, which is another topic that we’ll address in our next post.
If you’re a beneficiary or heir of an estate, you may wish to seek removal of an executor or administrator. The attorneys at The Johnson Firm are available to help such beneficiaries and heirs. Our team of highly educated, experienced Dallas trust attorneys advises and assists beneficiaries throughout Texas. Please call us today to assess whether removal is warranted in your personal circumstances. Our offices also serve Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Denton, Fort Worth, Garland, Irving, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Nacogdoches, Lufkin, and Center.