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When can families remove a personal representative?

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2023 | Estate Planning

The personal representative of a Virginia estate could be someone chosen by the decedent. Many people name a specific representative in their estate planning paperwork. Other times, the courts will appoint someone to oversee the probate process and uphold someone’s last wishes. 

The personal representative of an estate will have to secure assets, attend probate court hearings, communicate with creditors and distribute assets according to someone’s instructions. Most of the time, the person appointed to the role will handle probate from the beginning of the process to the end. 

Occasionally, family members remove a personal representative from their position. When is doing so an option in Virginia? 

State law outlines specific reasons for removal

There are a handful of different reasons why people have the chance to remove a personal representative from their role. For example, perhaps they have let their personal feelings dictate what they do with estate resources instead of following state law or the testator’s documents. 

Maybe they are so busy that they have failed to secure resources and begin the probate process. They may have a conflict of interest that leads to them putting their own financial desires ahead of what would be best for the beneficiaries of the estate. They may have proven incompetent and engaged in conduct that diminished estate resources. Any of those scenarios, as well as someone’s incarceration or the courts declaring them incapacitated, would likely justify their removal from their position.

Those seeking the removal of a representative typically need evidence validating their claims about someone’s failures or inability to fulfill their responsibilities. Recognizing when the courts may intervene can help families protect their interest in an estate by removing someone from a position of authority.