It’s important to make the right choice of executor when you’re creating your will. But can an executor of a will be removed, if they’re no longer willing or able to fulfil the role? And is there any possibility of changing the executor of a will after death? Here’s our guide to how to remove an executor from a will.

How to remove an executor from your own will

If you’d like to make changes to your will, such as removing or changing your executor, you can do this by making a codicil. For more information, see our guide, ‘What Is a Codicil to a Will’?

If you have a lot of changes to make, you might instead choose to make an entirely new will. If you make your will with Beyond, you can make unlimited free updates with a £10 yearly subscription.

 

How to change executor of a will after death

As mentioned above, you can remove an executor from your own will with a simple codicil. Removing an executor from someone else’s will is more complicated.

If the executor is willing to resign, that’s the easiest method for removing an executor of a will after the death of the will’s creator. We have a guide to how to resign as an executor.

The alternative to resignation is to challenge the executor of the will in court; see ‘Contesting an executor of a will’, below, for more details on this.

You may find that an executor would prefer to resign rather than be taken to court. If you’re considering legal action against an executor, explain your intentions to the executor and present the alternative of resigning, as this could save both of you time and trouble.

 

Contesting an executor of a will

If the executor won’t resign, you’ll need a court order to remove them.

Taking the case to court can be a difficult, expensive and lengthy process, so it’s always better to reach an agreement with the executor if possible, whether by finding a compromise on the handling of the estate or by persuading them to resign. If the court concludes that the issue could be resolved through discussion, it’s unlikely to remove the executor. A court order should be a last resort.

The court may consider there to be reasonable grounds for removal of an executor if the executor is failing to carry out their duties entirely, or is not acting in the interest of the estate and the beneficiaries. For example:

  • The executor refuses to apply for probate, meaning that the estate can’t be distributed.
  • The executor is stealing from or intentionally mismanaging the estate.

 

If the executor is willing to fulfil their role and distribute the estate as the will requests, while acting in the interest of the beneficiaries, it’s not generally possible to remove them just because the executor and the beneficiaries dislike each other or disagree.

If the court concludes that the executor isn’t suitable for the role, it may appoint a different executor or, if there are other executors named in the will, simply remove the troublesome executor from the role.

If you’d like to take the executor of a will to court, it’s best to contact a solicitor for advice.

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