Can an Executor be Removed from a Will and How to Do It

Can an executor be removed from a Will

Can an executor be removed from a will

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is already a challenging time. However, if the executor of the will is causing additional stress due to their inefficiency, the situation can be even more difficult. In such cases, it’s important to know that there are ways to have them removed.

When to Consider Removing an Executor

An executor might be removed in the following circumstances:

  • Unqualified: This could include lack of communication, taking too long, or mismanaging finances.
  • The executor has a conflict of Interest: for example, they are also a beneficiary and have made it known they want to buy the deceased’s property. They can’t act as both the seller and the buyer; otherwise, they could be accused of trying to secure a low price for their benefit.
  • Incapable: Illness, relocation, or being overwhelmed can make it hard to fulfill executor duties.
  • Unwilling: Perhaps they never wanted the responsibility.

Steps to Remove an Executor

  • Try Talking First: Explain your concerns and see if they’ll step down voluntarily.
  • Gather Evidence (if Needed): Proof of misconduct (like stealing or mismanagement) might be necessary.
  • File a Court Application (with Legal Help): A lawyer can guide you through this formal process.
  • Appoint a Replacement: Choose someone trustworthy, like another beneficiary or a professional.

What the Court Considers

  • Misconduct: Did they steal or act unethically?
  • Incompetence: Are they unable to handle the responsibilities?
  • Unwillingness to Act: Do they refuse to do the job?

Evidence required to remove an Executor from a Will

It’s tough to take someone off executor duty unless you can convince a judge they can’t do the job or shouldn’t be trusted.

The evidence you require will depend on the reason why you want an executor removed, for example:

  • An executor might no longer be capable of doing the job, such as suffering ill health or an injury.  Evidence of the issue restricting them needs to be provided to the court.  This may be easy to achieve if the executor is willing to step down, but if not, you may have to take legal action to acquire the necessary information from them.
  • If the executor has committed a crime and has or is going to be sent to prison, they are usually automatically disqualified from being an executor. They could still be removed if they have yet to be sentenced, but evidence would need to be provided to the court about their impending sentence.

For an executor to be considered unsuitable, they must have done something unlawful directly related to the estate administration.  For example:

  • They may have stolen from it.
  • Managed the estate or will poorly, or
  • failed to uphold their responsibilities as executors.

If you allege misconduct, it can be challenging to prove and could lead to further legal issues, so it is wise to consult a solicitor.

If the court is satisfied with the evidence provided, it has a discretionary power under section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 to appoint a substitute executor or to terminate the appointment of an executor.

A professional executor is often appointed to avoid the potential for a further family dispute. 

Don’t forget about Insurance

If you haven’t insured yourself, other executors and the beneficiaries, check out our Executor Insurance Guide to understand your liabilities and the insurance available to you.

If you have property to insure, don’t rely on the existing insurance to cover you. It may not give you the cover you need to fully protect the property or your liabilities. Check out our probate house insurance page for more information or to get a quote.


If you think the executor named in the will isn’t the right person for the job, don’t try to handle it yourself. Talk to a lawyer about your situation and the evidence you have.

They can help you decide the best course of action, whether it’s working with the executor, getting them to step down, or going to court to have them removed.

If you have any other questions on what is involved when acting as an executor visit our executor guide page.


This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a qualified lawyer experienced in UK probate law for guidance on your situation.

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Rob Faulkner CEO of Insuristic

Hi, I'm Rob, CEO and Founder of Insuristic. My mission is to make insurance easier to understand and buy online.

I hold an Advanced Diploma in Insurance (ACII) which demonstrates I have a solid technical understanding of Insurance and have committed to continuous professional development. I am also a member of the Chartered Insurance Institute and hold the a Chartered Insurance Broker status.

Over the last 27 years, I have worked for insurers, insurance brokers and insurance technology businesses, specialising in product, sales and marketing.

You can find out more about me on my author page.

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