The Indiana Supreme Court recently upheld the removal of a father as the administrator of his deceased son’s estate. The son was killed in an accident in July 2007 when the vehicle that he was traveling in was struck by a bus.
The man’s surviving daughter was subsequently placed under the guardianship of her aunt. Several days after the accident, the deceased man’s father petitioned the state’s Superior Court to appoint him as a special administrator of his son’s estate for pursuing wrongful death compensation.
One day after petitioning for an appointment, the mother of the the deceased man’s other child petitioned for appointment as special administrator and her petition was also granted, which led to the woman commencing a wrongful death action in Marion County.
Later, in August in 2017, the removal of the deceased man’s father as a administrator was sought because the mother of the deceased man’s other child argued that the man had met his grandchildren only a few times.
Subsequently, the Indiana Supreme Court first held that the appointment of the deceased man’s father should be reconsidered. As a result, the deceased man’s father was removed from his position.
The Role of Executors and Administrators
Executors are administrators who are named in wills who manage a person’s estates after the individual has died, while an administrator is responsible with handling a deceased person’s estate if the individual died without a will. As a result, executors and administrators play a very similar role.
It is important to understand that even though a will names an individual as an executor, a court is not required to report a person if it finds the individual unsuitable for any reason.
Blocking an Appointment
In situations where a court decides that a person who would be appointed as an executor administrator actually has an adverse interest, it is possible that the person will be disqualified from acting in this role. Instead, courts are able to appoint someone else to act in this role.
Some of the most common reasons why courts decide to remove an administrator (or an executor) include:
- Cases of hostility between the individual and any beneficiaries
- Conflict of interests between the acting individual and any beneficiaries
- Failure to make distributions in accordance with a deceased person’s instructions
- Failure to provide accurate accounting of a deceased individual’s assets
- Failure to treat all beneficiaries associated with an estate in an equal and impartial manner
- Not exercising reasonable care in estate management
- Previous poor administration of other estates by the individual
- Taking action without the probate court’s permission
- Use of the position for an individual’s personal gain
- Will contests between the individual and beneficiaries
Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
The estate planning process is complex, but it need not be. If you need assistance in navigating this process, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today to schedule a free initial consultation.