When a Minnesota resident leaves behind a large and complex estate, the process of settling the assets often goes through formal probate. One of the first steps is the appointment of a personal representative who then becomes responsible for the estate’s administration.
Once appointed, the personal representative must collect and inventory the estate’s assets, pay the bills, repay outstanding debts and maintain the estate’s value. A good representative will work in an orderly and transparent fashion. On the other hand, a bad representative can significantly reduce the estate’s value. In such a case, someone with an interest in the estate may want to call for the representative's removal.
Your petition must show grounds for removal
Not everyone can make a good personal representative. There are many reasons someone might fail to balance all the legal responsibilities to the estate. For this reason, Minnesota law offers several possible causes for removal:
- Removal is in the estate’s best interests.
- If anyone lied or deceived the court during the representative’s appointment.
- The representative hasn’t followed court orders.
- The representative cannot follow through with the responsibilities of administration.
- The representative has mismanaged the estate or did not perform all assigned duties.
This last point is worth noting. While it’s clear that a representative shouldn’t steal from the estate or hold a conflict of interest, the representative also has a duty to uphold the estate’s value. There has been more than one case in which a personal representative has sold or reinvested stock and lost a significant amount of money.
Uphold your interests
The probate process, especially with larger estates, can take several months or years. That’s more than enough time for an irresponsible or incompetent representative to shrink its value and your award. Understanding the job and your rights can help you decide whether to petition for a representative’s removal.