New Jersey residents who stand to benefit from a loved one's estate or trust have to put a lot of faith in the executor of the estate or, in the case of a trust, in the trustee.
These people have a lot of power over a deceased person's property, but with that power comes the responsibility to make sure the property gets handled carefully. The must also transfer the property to the heirs and beneficiaries according to the law and to the instructions in the will or trust. This responsibility is what the law calls fiduciary, meaning that, as a trusted person, the executor has a strict obligation to act in the best interests of the estate.
Usually, executors in New Jersey make every effort to perform this important task well and as promptly as possible. Unfortunately, though, this is not always the case.
When a family suspects that an executor, or trustee, is not doing her job properly, then they may ask the court overseeing the case to remove the fiduciary and nominate another person to replace her.
The family cannot expect absolute perfection from an executor but must allege specific legal grounds for removal.
For example, an executor must follow the court's orders and New Jersey's laws when it comes to inventorying the estate, filing reports and the like. Not doing so in a timely fashion is grounds for removal. Likewise, an executor who squanders money in the estate, even if not intentionally, can be removed. Sometimes, an executor may himself suffer a mental or physical problem that makes him incapable of continuing to serve in his role.
New Jersey families who are interested in removing an executor or fiduciary for whatever reason should consider speaking with an attorney who has experience with probate litigation.