Can the Judge Remove Administrator of the Estate?
When a person passes and leaves a will, anyone that is named as a beneficiary in that will can file to have the will probated and the executor listed will be appointed administrator. If there is no will, any of the legal heirs may do so. When filing without a will, a personal representative is named by the court to handle the estate's accountings. This representative has a fiduciary duty to the estate and if those duties are mishandled, the court can remove the representative.
Some of the duties that are listed in the Texas Estates Code include, but are not limited to: a duty of fair dealing, loyalty, and good faith and to act with integrity, a duty to use reasonable care to preserve and maintain the estate, and a duty to avoid delegating acts that the personal representative is personally required to perform. To only name a few.
If the personal representative is not diligent about implementing these duties, the court can have them removed. Texas Estate Code Section 361.052 lists the circumstances when a personal representative can be removed: the representative (1) has misapplied, embezzled all or a part of the property entrusted to the representative's care; (2) fails to return any account required by law to be made; (3) fails to obey a proper order of the court; (4) is guilty of gross misconduct or mismanagement in the performance of the representative's duties; (5) becomes incapacitated, is sentenced to the penitentiary, or from any other cause, becomes incapable of properly performing the duties of the representative's trust, or (6) fails to make a final settlement by the third anniversary of the date letters testamentary or of administration are granted, unless the period is extended by court on a showing of sufficient cause supported by oath or timely filed affidavit or certificate required under section 308.004 of the estates code.
The courts do no take these duties lightly and if they are violated the administrator can be removed, just as in the Dallas 5th Court of Appeals case, In the Estate of Brian Matsuo Sakima.
In that case, the administration began in 2011, by 2018 the administrator had yet to settle the accounts of the case, nor file a proper accounting. The court show caused the administrator on three occasions to appear in court with an accounting, but the administrator never did so. For these reasons, the probate court ordered the removal of that personal representative and appointed another.
Again, you can see the importance of having a will. If you draft a will, you will be able to specify who your personal representative, or executor will be. That way, you can choose a person that is responsible and able to adequately manage your estate. Without a will, any legal heir to your estate can file to be the representative. So, say you have a rogue son who can't handle the $10 in his bank account, he could possibly be the personal representative of your whole estate! Don't let that be something your family has to deal with, give us a call today!