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Can I remove a personal representative?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2024 | Probate & Estate Administration

Being a personal representative for an estate in Pennsylvania involves many responsibilities. The best qualities for a personal representative to have include being responsible, dependable, organized and trustworthy.

Additionally, a personal representative must be loyal to the estate’s heirs. A personal representative has a fiduciary duty to the heirs, which means a duty to act in their best interests.

But what happens if the personal representative fails in these duties or turns out to be a poor choice? This is common in situations where a personal representative was chosen for “default” type of reasons, such as being the oldest child.

More obvious red flags that a personal representative was a wrong choice is if they start stealing funds from the state or failing to fulfill their requirements or meet deadlines.

Grounds for removal

Pennsylvania law allows the court to remove a personal representative in certain situations. One of the main grounds for removal is evidence that the personal representative is wasting or mismanaging assets.

Other grounds for removal include a personal representative who fails to meet their duty under the law. The legal requirements that must be followed can be complicated and the process can feel overwhelming.

However, a personal representative must make a good faith effort to follow the law and perform their duties. If they have trouble with this, they should seek help or they risk being removed.

Sometimes even if a personal representative is acting in good faith, other grounds for removal may exist. A personal representative who becomes incapacitated might be unable to continue serving in the role.

When it comes to incapacitation as grounds for removal, the incapacitation must be one that prevents the personal representative from properly serving. If the incapacitation is minor or short-term, removal may not be granted.

You must back up your grounds with evidence

Even without any of these specific grounds for removal, the law allows removal if there is evidence that the personal representative’s behavior or actions put the estate at risk.

Whatever grounds you use for removal, you must have evidence to support your claim. A successful removal depends on strong evidence.