"Whilst rare, there have been instances when circumstances necessitate the removal of an executor for an estate"
Emma Wakeling, Partner
The role of an executor of an estate is pivotal. This individual or company, designated in a movable will by the person whose will it is (the testator), shoulders the responsibility of executing the testator’s wishes outlined in the will after the testator’s passing. This role is formalised through the administration of an oath by the Probate Registrar and the subsequent issuance of the Grant of Probate, granting the executor the authority to carry out the deceased person’s final instructions.
An Executor’s responsibilities
Once entrusted with this responsibility, the executor becomes the steward of the testator’s final wishes, ensuring that the estate is distributed in accordance with the terms stipulated in the will. Typically an executor is a relative, friend or professional entity.
Grounds for the removal of an Executor
Whilst rare, there have been instances when circumstances necessitate the removal of an executor. The Probate (Jersey) Law 1998 provides provisions for removal but there must be exceptional reasons for any such order to be made.
Lakeman v Lakeman
The recent Royal Court judgment of Lakeman v Lakeman provides helpful guidance on the circumstances in which an executor might be removed from their role.
In Lakeman, one brother sought to remove the other as executor, asserting that the executor’s capability, health, welfare and lack of independence, justified his removal.
On the facts of this case, and in particular, on the basis of the evidence presented to the Court in support of the above grounds, the Court determined that the brother in question should be removed as executor.
Although each case will turn on its facts, this case is useful in demonstrating some of the reasons that may justify the removal of an executor. Such cases may well be few and far between and the hurdle is a high one to reach to satisfy the test for removal of an executor, but this is a useful remedy to bear in mind in circumstances where one is concerned about how an executor is behaving.