Grounds for removal of an executor in Texas
A Texas executor, administrator, trustee, or other fiduciaries can be removed by the probate court but not because the beneficiaries under the will don’t like him. A Texas executor can only be removed for specific reasons that must be pled and proven by the beneficiaries who are seeking his removal. Some of those grounds are gross misconduct, gross mismanagement and a material conflict of interest.
In a 2015 case from the San Antonio court of appeals, the beneficiaries pled that the executor had not “assiduously pursued settlement of the estate” and that the executor had a conflict of interest with the estate. The application further alleged that “grounds exist for removal of the independent executor due to misapplication of funds and other fiduciary property, breach of fiduciary duty, and self-dealing in estate property.” The complaint was that the executor had not tried to sell the estate’s only asset, a house and that he had moved in the house and was not paying rent. The executor claimed that the application for his removal did not allege gross misconduct, gross mismanagement, or material conflict of interest as grounds for his removal which are the only grounds for removal. The court ruled that Texas has notice pleadings and that the application in this case while not using the words in the removal statute was sufficient to give the executor notice of why the beneficiaries wanted his removal.
Conflict of Interest
In addition to the pleadings question, the executor alleged that the conflict of interest alleged by the beneficiaries was only a good-faith disagreement regarding the value of the property. The supreme court of Texas has ruled that good faith disagreements regarding the value of the property do not constitute a conflict of interest sufficient to remove an executor. The court rejected the executor’s argument noting that he had moved from a garage apartment into the house, had said that he was going to live there forever, and had changed the locks. The court ruled that these acts were not just good-faith disagreements over the value of the property but were sufficient grounds for the removal of an executor in Texas.